enfrdeitptrues

Fighter

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Chronicles of Gavri
    Developed by: Antediluvian
    Release date: January 1, 2017
    Available on: Windows
    Number of players: Single-player
    Genre: Fighter
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $9.99

     

    Thank you Antediluvian for sending us this game to review!

    We’ve reviewed many types of Christian themed games ranging from Bible trivia ones to first person shooters.   Chronicles of Gavri is the first Christian themed beat ‘em up game that I’ve played.  The game doesn’t hide its Christian theme and starts off by retelling Genesis’ creation. From there a little more creative license is used for setting the backstory of the game.

    Gavri is a warrior of God who has been trained in the celestial combative arts in order to defeat the emperor’s army.  The emperor of Nod and his subjects are godless descendants of Cain while Gavri and his family are descendants of Seth.   The bloodlines are intermingling and debauchery is happening as a result.  It’s time to bring the fear of God back into people.   

    Chronicles of Gavri
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: A Christian beat ‘em up game
    Weak Points: No menu system; no controller support; level objectives are not clear; graphics are low resolution; progress is not saved
    Moral Warnings: Violence and bloodshed

    Upon launching Chronicles of Gavri, Windows 10 tried to stop me by saying that this game could be potentially dangerous.  Be prepared to make an exception as this game is safe to play.   Another surprise was how small it appeared on my 2560x1440 resolution monitor.  I'm not sure what the exact resolution is, but the game is about 2" by 2".  So tiny!   Pressing the shift button or alt+enter will make the game run in full screen mode.  The art style is unique and I like it, however it’s low-res and pixilated when at full screen.     

    The attack moves are accomplished by utilizing the arrow and space bar keys in various combinations.  Sadly, there are no menu options whatsoever and there is no way to re-map the controls or use a gamepad.  To ensure your survival, it’s in your best interest to master both the offensive and defensive moves.  Gavri and the enemies are nicely detailed and their attack moves look good, but the sprite flipping when changing directions is very noticeable and often doesn’t register right away resulting in some free attacks from the enemy.    Whenever an attack succeeds, some blood sprays out from the victim.

    Chronicles of Gavri
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 58%
    Gameplay - 10/20
    Graphics - 5/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 2/5

    Morality Score - 85%
    Violence - 2.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Numerous soldiers will head your way and they are often wielding weapons, shields or even riding what appears to be velociraptors.  Once all of the enemies are defeated you’ll be sent to the next level/chapter.  There have been times where I made it to the end of the level and had to go back to the beginning to find a straggling soldier that somehow evaded a finishing blow.  On a different level I cleared out all of the enemies and was scratching my head wondering why I didn’t advance.  As it turns out I had to free some prisoners by attacking their cages.  This was not explained or made clear at the beginning of the level.

    Another mystery is Gavri’s health.  As Gavri and the enemies get hurt they start to turn red.  When they are a dark maroon color they are near death.  I prefer health bars to show how much life a unit has left in them.    

    If Gavri dies, he gets to retry from the beginning of the level.  Once the game is exited (by pressing the esc key), all game progress is lost!  Having an option of resuming from the previously played chapter would be nice.  

    In the end, Chronicles of Gavri has an interesting premise, but is too rough around the edges to enjoy at this time.  Hopefully the developer incorporates some of the feedback provided in this review.  There is a demo available to try out before parting with $9.99.  I highly recommend playing that first.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Coffee Crisis
    Developed By: Mega Cat Studios
    Published By: Mega Cat Studios
    Released: February 24, 2017 (Physical); May 4, 2018 (PC digital)
    Available On: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, macOS, SteamOS+Linux, Windows
    Genre: Beat ‘em up
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen: Violence, Blood
    Number of Players: 1-2 players offline
    Price: $5.99 (Digital), $39.99 (Genesis/Mega Drive cartridge)

    Thank you Mega Cat Studios for the review code.

    No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This is not an old game that received a re-release for the computer platforms. A bunch of madmen did indeed create a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive game in the year 2017 and release it to the public. Coffee Crisis is a rather interesting game. A game based on a real coffee shop; Black Forge Coffee House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which came to be when two groups met each other during a fundraiser, and decided to create a retro game out of passion and love for the older days. If one has the material to create retro carts, may as well do something as crazy as this.

    Coffee Crisis stars two baristas based on real living people: Ashley and Nick. They work in a fictional version of the Black Forge Coffee House, when suddenly aliens attack, and they want four things: our metal bands, our cats, our coffee and “all of the WiFi.” For reasons unknown, it is up to our barista duo to save our world and the things we hold very dear with it. It’s a rather silly premise that isn’t taking itself seriously in the slightest.

    Coffee Crisis is a side scrolling co-op beat ‘em up where the goal is to eliminate all enemies on the screen and proceed forward. The controls are rather simple. You have your standard attack button, your grab button which can be used to grapple enemies or pick up weapons, your special attack button which does heavy damage and disperses the crowd at the cost of some health, and a jump button to either avoid damage or to execute a jumping attack. Enemies have a good amount of variety to them; there are short one-eyed aliens, standard grey aliens that shoot projectiles, the typical men in black, farm girls who use whips to attack, and much more. As standard of beat ‘em ups, the game uses a life system. Normally, you start off with three lives, and can gain more from earning 1000 points in a level, picking up extra lives, or partaking in a minigame at the end of a level (minigame participation requires an item pickup within the level). Power-ups are also littered throughout the stage which grant you various abilities such as invulnerability (which also means you can use your special attack with no cost), and higher damage output. The playable characters do not have any stat advantages over the other, but I personally found Nick to be the better combatant due to a vastly better special attack, and slightly longer range when using weapons.

    Coffee Crisis
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: A nice amount of features to differentiate itself from the Genesis/Mega Drive counterpart; interesting use of mutators and cheats to make every experience feel different; really nails that retro feel
    Weak Points: Short; archaic; music choice doesn’t exactly fit most of the scenery or setting of the game
    Moral Warnings: Some enemies do shed blood when hit; some characters use the letter “F” a filler word for a certain swear; some enemy types include elderly people

    The graphics consist of 16-bit sprites which are used rather impressively and look very sharp and crisp. The characters have a nice amount of detail to them, and the sprite animations have a nice fluidity to them. The controls can be used by controller or keyboard, and both can be used simultaneously and seamlessly, which did help me in spots when my controller’s start button wasn’t working properly.

    As the PC version of Coffee Crisis is an enhanced remake of the Genesis/Mega Drive version, it does include extra things such as higher quality graphics, multiple controller support and mapping, achievements, an extra difficulty, a heavy metal based soundtrack, Twitch and Mixer integration, patches and updates, and one of the most notable features, mutators. The game runs rather well, at a solid 60 frames at all times. To set itself apart from most beat ‘em ups, Coffee Crisis enables the use of these mutators that activate at a “Finish Them” zone. These mutators can do various beneficial or harmful effects such as changing the look of the screen, giving you a helper to attack enemies, or even make enemies deal and withstand a lot more damage. One to five mutators can activate for each zone, and it’s typically random as to which one you will receive. The system is rather interesting and can lead to some amusing moments, as well as equally frustrating ones. Thankfully, if one wants a more standard experience, the mutators can be toggled off in the options menus.

    As Coffee Crisis is a retro game in itself, it also suffers from being a very archaic experience. As the game was made with the Genesis/Mega Drive in mind, it leaves itself restricted and limited in how much it can do. What I mean by this is that some commands do require precision, such as the grappling of certain enemies and that pressing button commands too quickly may lead to some actions not happening, which isn’t the fault of the controls as is the limitations of the system. For a person who has played all kinds of beat ‘em ups, it misses out on various improvements that more modern games of the genre were able to implement. As with most beat ‘em ups, it is also a short experience, lasting around 30 minutes to an hour for most players and thus doesn’t lend itself kindly to someone who only plays one game and moves on to the next one. As with the music, it consists mostly of heavy metal tracks but most of the music tends to clash with the setting and scenery of the game. The developers also left me rather disappointed in that there was no option to swap the music with the Genesis/Mega Drive soundfont. Maybe they’ll implement it in a later update.

    Coffee Crisis
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 72%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 90%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 8.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Morally, the game is a beat ‘em up so violence is a given. There are instances of pixelated blood shown in the game such as when the player character is wailing on enemies, but also at the beginning when a character is chosen. There is an image before starting the game that shows a pair of bloody hands holding a controller. There are also enemy types that consist of old men and old ladies and you can’t reason with them, except for smacking them into submission. The player characters at times use the letter “F” as a fill in for, well you know.

    Coffee Crisis ends up being a rather satisfactory beat ‘em up, and funny enough, an interesting representation of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania as it uses quite a bit of Pittsburgh/Pennsylvania jargon and slang. Its archaic feeling does hold it back in many ways, it’s far from the best one in the genre, and the aged premise may not appeal to a younger audience, but it was never aiming for them in the first place. I can recommend it to lovers of beat ‘em ups, lovers of couch co-op, and lovers of retro games. There is even a neat option of buying the region free Genesis/Mega Drive cartridge directly within the game and can even receive a discount on it depending on your score on the PC version (or you can simply buy the physical cart directly from Mega Cat Studio's website). The developers also seem to be preparing for a rather big update that includes extra levels and bosses, as there are some achievements I have yet to obtain, even with beating the game on all difficulty settings. With four difficulties, great usage of the mutator system, as well as streaming integration, and a cheap price, Coffee Crisis is a suitable bargain for the target audience of the older generation who grew up with the fourth generation of consoles.

    -Cinque Pierre

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    DEAD OR ALIVE 6
    Developed By: Team Ninja/Koei Tecmo Games
    Published By: Koei Tecmo Games
    Release Date: March 1, 2019
    Available On: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
    Genre: Fighting
    Number of Players: 1-2
    ESRB Rating: M for Blood, Language, Sexual Themes, Violence
    MSRP: $59.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Koei Tecmo for sending us this game to review!

    The fighting game genre has long been synonymous with girls in skimpy outfits. From Cammy’s thong leotard in Super Street Fighter 2 to various well-endowed characters from Killer Instinct and the Soul series, there is a long history of these games depicting women in such ways. But perhaps no fighting game series became synonymous with large-breasted women and jiggle physics quite like Dead or Alive.

    In earlier installments, such physics were clearly over-the-top and ridiculous. When I was much younger, I remember seeing the game on display at my local arcade and thinking 'this is stupid, I'll never play this' and moving on to other fare on offer. It's not that I would never play games with exaggerated-looking girls, as I did play plenty of Killer Instinct, but the way they were depicted back then was frankly embarrassing. I didn't want to be seen playing a game like that (and who said shame can't be a good thing).

    Moving forward to 2019, fighting games have had a massive renaissance. Street Fighter V is a huge and popular game (along with the excellent 30th Anniversary Edition representing the classics), Mortal Kombat keeps releasing new versions, Tekken is back with its seventh installment, Killer Instinct has a great modern update, and SoulCalibur VI is a fantastic entry in that series as well, with smooth motion and amazing 3D graphics. The fighting game audience has also grown up as well, as those teenagers in the 1990s are now all grown up with kids of their own, and may not appreciate what Dead or Alive used to offer in the same way.

    So now, we have Koei Tecmo, the owners of the franchise, stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place.  They want to keep their existing fans, who may prefer the depicted excesses of the female form as is, and also hope to draw in new fans who may not have that same appreciation.  Team Ninja has stated that they have eSports aspirations with the series, so having a more respectable presentation is important.

    DEAD OR ALIVE 6
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Mechanically interesting and excellent fighter; simple to play, difficult to master; excellent graphics and effects in-battle; lots of characters to choose from
    Weak Points: Season Pass DLC is priced higher than the game; some video and interface assets look pixelated/low quality on a 4K display; 3D movement doesn't seem to dodge attacks like I hoped it would
    Moral Warnings: Significant animated violence; some blood splatters, which can be disabled with an option; some females have breasts that jiggle (this seems to depend on the character/outfit); some optional outfits are quite ridiculous, with little left to the imagination (most default ones are fine); significant cleavage and underwear visible in many fights; some male characters are topless; one character is a tengu (a supernatural creature like a demon) and others have mystical powers; words 'd*mn', 'sh*t', and 'h*ll' used

    Does it succeed? Well, sort of. Some characters are indeed fairly modest, while others, like Honoka, Nyotengu, and Tina, far less so. All of the jiggle physics are more realistic now, with actual gravity controlling the movement. As such, it's not quite as bombastic as it used to be. But, there are still situations where Honoka jumps up and down in her intro segment, and as such, breasts are jiggled. Also, some characters (again, Honoka being an example) wear skirts that can be flipped up or seen under depending on the situation, so underwear is visible. There are also several females with skin tight clothes or other revealing outfits, with lots of exposed skin or cleavage. Optional outfits often leave little to the imagination.

    Thankfully, male characters, and conservatively dressed females, can be played as well. Some males are topless. Everyone has unlockable outfits, with some available through DLC purchases, though most can be unlocked through normal play. As you go, you earn points that can be used to unlocked different hairstyles, sunglasses, and other things in the customization menu. How quickly this can be done is still being tweaked by the developer, as a hotfix was posted just yesterday (as of this writing) tweaking how many points you earn for each task.

    Fighting itself is actually quite interesting and lots of fun. It is a mostly side-by-side fighter, with rotational movement, which is very similar to Tekken or SoulCalibur. Unlike some fighting games, the actions themselves, or the input combinations to perform various actions, are relatively simple. There are punch, kick, hold, throw, and special attack buttons. Most actions are a combination of those and directional inputs, though a few do include quarter-circle actions. In general though, this game is more about knowing how and when to respond to attacks, including a deep and complex counter system, rather than expecting players to perfect complex inputs in order to defeat their opponents with powerful moves. This makes it easy for newcomers to play, yet also deep enough to foster plenty of advanced play. You win by draining the health bar of your opponent for as many rounds as required for victory.

    There are several game modes available, with limited online play currently, as only ranked play is available now. (Unranked lobby play will be released in a patch in a few weeks.) Single or local modes include training, arcade, versus, survival, story mode, and a unique DOA Quest. Arcade and versus modes are just what you expect, and are very similar to pretty much every other fighting game, where you play one enemy after another until you beat them all (arcade) or play a single match of your choice against the computer or a local friend with another controller.

    Training mode is actually quite excellent, as each moveset is carefully walked through, with the game teaching you each and every combo and showing you what buttons you must press, as well as whether or not you succeed. If you want to be competitive online, be sure to spend some time here.

    DEAD OR ALIVE 6
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay  - 17/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 73%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 6/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Story mode is where little cut scenes (that are rendered at much lower resolution than my 4K display supports) are shown in between matches that tell the story of the characters, and why they are fighting. Some are there purely to win the Dead or Alive 6 tournament, while others are trying to protect their friends, rescue them, perform some diabolical deed, or sometimes less serious motivations, like finding the ultimate alcoholic drink. (One of the characters practices a drunken fighting style.)

    DOA Quest is a really neat mode where you play matches with specific objectives to complete, and you are rewarded with points to unlock things. While you can get these points in other ways, this is by far the quickest and easiest. What I found really neat is that the aforementioned training mode is integrated perfectly into this one. Let's say a requirement for a stage is to pull off a certain combo. If you press the appropriate button, you can launch training mode and see the exact requirement spelled out for you, so you can practice before the match. I was really impressed with the thought that went into this mode. The game really trains you for more advanced combat by doing this, which is a huge plus.

    Though most appropriateness issues have already been covered, including female garb and an emphasis on alluring movements, drunkenness, and violence, there is a bit more. There is the occasional blood visible, which can be turned off via a setting. One of the characters is a tengu, which is basically a variation on demons. Several characters have ninja powers, including manipulating energy and teleporting. In this area, I would say it's not as bad as most fighting games, though. The words 'd*mn', 'sh*t', and 'h*ll' are also used.

    The graphics and sound are quite excellent, at least in battle. The cut scenes are of a mediocre quality at best, and the menu fonts look kind of low resolution on a 4K screen. (I just got this screen recently though, so it may be more common than I am used to.) The sound effects are great, but some of the voice acting is not the greatest. Nevertheless, in the stages, everything looks and plays fantastically.

    DEAD OR ALIVE 6 is my first entry in this series to really spend any reasonable time with. Despite the 'character flaws', I can clearly understand why it has endured all of these years after all. The fighting system is fast, fun, and easy to play while being difficult to master. For hardcore fighting game fans, it's easy to recommend. And yet, please be mindful of not only the appropriateness issues listed above, but the shockingly expensive season pass on offer (it costs more than the game does). In time, Koei Tecmo has promised that you will be able to buy characters and outfits individually. But for now, if you must have absolutely everything, be prepared to pay.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Double Dragon
    Developed By: Technos Japan Corp.
    Published By: MonkeyPaw Games/Technos Japan Corp.
    Release Date: January 14, 2014/April 26, 1996
    Available On: PS3/PSP/PSVita via PSN, PS1 (Japan), Neo Geo
    Genre: 1 vs. 1 fighting game
    Number of Players: 1-2
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    MSRP: $5.99

    Thank you MonkeyPaw Games for sending us this game to review!

    When I think of the name 'Double Dragon', it brings back many wonderful memories of my brother and I pounding the snot out of hordes of thugs, ninjas, and various other bad guys, as Billy and Jimmy Lee set out to save Marian from evil thugs (or take revenge for her death, as it were).  The Double Dragon series played a very important part in the evolution of all games fighting.  But this is not that game.

    This Double Dragon is a 1 vs. 1 fighting game, similar to Street Fighter or its many clones (of which this is one).  It is based on a critically disparaged movie of the same name.  In this Double Dragon, Marian is not in distress, but runs a street gang (?) and helps fight crime in the city.  She, along with Billy and Jimmy, are part of a cast of twelve characters, most of whom are unique to the movie.  Your goal is to beat every other character, and finally, the last bad guy, Koga Shuko.

    double dragon
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Interesting variation on classic fighter game play; controls work well after getting used to them; this is the first time this version was released outside of Japan completely untouched from the original release
    Weak Points: Japanese text for menus and story scenes makes following the characters challenging; not as much variety as some competing fighting games; some moves remind fighting game veterans of other popular franchises; the built-in digital manual was not translated at all, nor is there any translation guide outside of their website
    Moral Warnings: Violence (punching and kicking bad guys); One character's fighting style is drunken boxing, and it becomes clear what it is as one of his moves involves spitting at his opponent; one female wears tight clothes while another shows cleavage, though both examples are very tame by fighting game standards

    Unfortunately, I had to glean most if not all of the plot elements above from the Internet (particularly, here ) because, being a direct Japanese import, all of the plot text is in Japanese.  There is enough English text in the main menu and during the character selection and fighting screens to allow us English speaking gamers to be able to play the game just fine, but the options menu, memory card menu, and all spoken character text is not.  Interestingly, the narrator (Jimmy Wins!) does speak English.  Thankfully, MonkeyPaw has taken the time to explain the controls and options on this page here.  I just wish that this information was in the digital manual that accompanies the game in the PSN release.

    Plot and menu issues aside, the game is remarkably playable for a Japanese import.  Once some of the control issues become clear via the previously mentioned URL, beneath all of that is a pretty fun fighting game.  There is a fair amount of depth in the fighting system.  Instead of punch and kick attack buttons, there are four attack buttons ranging from weak to very strong.  On the character selection screen, a box helpfully shows what the key combinations are for some of the special moves.  There is a counter system, where weak beats very strong, normal beats weak, strong beats normal, and very strong beats strong attacks.  Not only this, but there is a charge system that, once the meter is filled, allows you to perform very powerful attacks.  This certainly allowed me to win a few times where I deserved otherwise.

    There are three game modes: Overdrive Mode, Normal Mode, and Tiny 3D Mode.  Tiny 3D is mostly a gimmick, and I didn't find it worth playing.  It just makes the playing field look quasi-3D with multiple planes at various depths.  On a PS1 game this is probably not the best idea.  At first glance, it is very hard to tell Overdrive from Normal mode.  It was not until I read the MonkeyPaw Games web link above that I had a glimpse into the differences.  In summary, it has an improved attack priority system.  Other reports suggest it may play a little faster.  If so, I could not tell.

    So, is this game worth the download?  If you are a fan of classic fighting games, particularly those of the Neo Geo style or vintage, I would say it's worth a look.  It's not a bad game by any means, and there are some unique fighting styles represented here.  For example, the drunken fighter Cheng Fu has an interesting playstyle.

    double dragon
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 66%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability/Polish - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 86%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

    I was also surprised to find that the controls are more forgiving than some more mainstream fighting game entries from the PS1 era.  For example, I found Billy and Jimmy's Street Fighter-like attacks (Ryu's Dragon Punch, Hurricane Kick, and Fireball all have a similar move here with the same movements) far more forgiving on the gamepad than my attempts at executing Ken's similar moves in Street Fighter Alpha 3.  Also, my wife, who sat with me to help me get the perspective of a fresh set of eyes, really appreciated that the special move list is on the character selection screen, where they are nowhere to be found in Alpha 3.  Despite that, she found both quarter circle and charge style moves challenging to pull off.  It's been so long, I forgot how hard those moves can be to someone new.  

    Like all fighting games, there is violence here.  Your goal is to beat up the person you duel against.  There is no blood or gore.  There is no foul language (at least in English), and while the women are not dressed perfectly, with tight clothing on Marian and cleavage on Rebecca, it is really tame compared to most fighting games.  Cheng Fu does drink alcohol, and appears impaired on screen, with his swaying movements.

    Double Dragon is an interesting entry in the fighting game canon.  In a sense, it's easy to forget, given the many, many great fighting games it had to compete with from the same time period.  And it's hardly a good representation of what Double Dragon was all about.  But, it's not a bad game, and classic fighting game lovers may find something interesting here.

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Double Dragon Neon 
    Developed By: WayForward Technologies/Abstraction Games (PC)
    Published By: Midnight City
    Release Date: February 6, 2014/September 11, 2012
    Available On: PC/PS3/Xbox 360
    Version Reviewed: PC
    Genre: Beat 'em up
    Number of Players: 1-2
    ESRB Rating: Teen for Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, Partial Nudity 
    MSRP: $9.99

    Thank you Midnight City for sending us this game to review!

    Growing up as a gamer in the 80s, many thought that video games were an anti-social activity.  Sometimes that can be the case, but for my brother and I, the Double Dragon games on the NES (as well as a few other coop classics like Contra and Super-C) were anything but.  Even to this very day (literally, I was at his house today) we will occasionally fire up an old copy of Double Dragon 2 or 3 and take out thugs like the old days.  

    Double Dragon Neon is a modern day homage to those classic Double Dragons and the 1980s that spawned them.  Everything from the backgrounds and scenery, the level design, the enemies, and especially the music, pays tribute to one or more of those things.  

    For those not indoctrinated into the Double Dragon universe, this was a classic side scrolling 2D beat 'em up from the late 1980s/early 1990s.  The stars of the series are Billy and Jimmy Lee.  Billy's girlfriend, Marian, has a knack for getting captured, and it is the brothers' job to rescue her.  In Neon, the game immediately starts with a thug punching Marian in the gut and taking her away, which is an obvious homage to the very similar beginning to the original Double Dragon.  There are also several other levels with obvious nods to others (especially Double Dragon 2) as well.

    Double Dragon Neon
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun, colorful graphics; fantastic soundtrack; fun beat 'em up action; corny but fun sayings throughout the action
    Weak Points: Really challenging solo (if that's a con); classic hair grab move missing; a fair amount of bugs
    Moral Warnings: Lots of violence; suggestive themes include the 'sadistic seductress' who uses phrases like 'naughty naughty' and 'time for some discipline' (while wielding a whip); these (and other) women wear extremely exposing clothing; some lines sound like curses when they are not (what the butt!)

    While the classic games were simple two button affairs, Neon modernizes the formula somewhat.  There are strong and weak attack buttons, a jump button, a grab button, as well as run and dodge/roll buttons.  There is also a special attack button. There is also a light RPG system as well added on to make things a bit more modern, and encourage replays.

    Special moves are called Sosetsitsu.  These use magic points, but can really do a lot of damage, or get you out of a tight spot.  There are also Stances, which improve your attack, defense, hit points, and magic points.  Enemies often drop random tapes, and there are a few shops hidden in levels that sell them as well. The more tapes you have of a particular type, the more powerful that stance or special move.  At the start, you max out at ten tapes.  To increase beyond ten, you need to spend mythril at a tapesmith, which increases this limit by ten each time. You can obtain mythril by defeating any boss.

    By allowing character progression in this way, the game strongly encourages replay, and even grinding if you are stuck.  This is a good thing, as it takes only a few short hours to beat the game; it's possible for someone to rush through it in one hour or so.  But the replay value is very good.  Upon beating the game at a difficulty, additional ones are unlocked.  Later difficulties are nearly impossible without upgrades, and they reward more drops as well, which rewards more challenging and skillful play.

    The combat, along with the RPG system, is done well enough that I find myself coming back for more often.  It really is fun to play.  It can be really satisfying to finally pound some of the more challenging bosses, or to put Abobo in his place one more time.  My biggest complaint is that most of the women wear pretty ridiculous outfits, with little more than a thong on their rears, and rather large bosoms.  Some also walk in highly suggestive ways, carrying whips, while saying things like 'naughty naughty!' and 'time for some discipline!'

    Double Dragon Neon
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 62%
    Violence - 5/10
    Language - 6/10
    Sexual Content - 5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

    Other than the clearly sexualized women, and the expected violence against everyone, there is less wrong than you might expect in many modern games.  D*mn and h*ll are used, but most other things you think you hear as curse words, are not. For example, First time I heard 'what the butt!' I thought it was far worse, until I heard it again and listened more closely.  You also get to pound in the skulls of some undead as well.

    There are a ton of silly puns in this game.  While using a baseball bat, you will often hear 'touchdown!' and 'hole in one!'.  Only occasionally will you hear an appropriate 'grand slam!'.  Other silliness includes knife wielders yelling 'stabular!' and whip users yelling 'kraken!' and 'whip it!'.  I really got a kick out of some of the bad guys.  One yells 'bang! bang! bang!' while shooting a gun, and another narrates some pretty silly stuff like 'don't worry, I have a replacement plan!' while you proceed to smash his big screen TVs to bits.  I admit that cheesy humor appeals to me, and this game comes through plenty.

    The music is also great, with plenty of hair band flair.  None of the lyrics are inappropriate, which is a huge plus.  They are also fun to listen to.  Some of them are pretty ridiculous, like the mini song Training Wheels.  The soundtrack is free, even in high quality FLAC (audiophiles like me everywhere, rejoice!) here

    The graphics are also neat, using a very colorful cell-shaded look.  I always prefer my games to have lots of color vs. the brown fests that infected games a few years ago, and I am glad that this one comes through.  Attack moves are convincing, and it rarely feels like the game cheats – if you die, it's because you messed up, and you can clearly see that.

    Double Dragon Neon

    This game also looks great at really high resolutions.  I run my monitor at 2560x1440, and when it's working, it really works great.  Unfortunately, the largest area of bugs that I found in this game related to setting the video mode. It offers three different modes: windowed, borderless window, and fullscreen. Fullscreen offers the 2560x1440 resolution option, but the game is running at 1920x1080, and it is clearly the case based on my monitor's OSD (On-screen display).  I was able to get it to run at the proper resolution when changing it to borderless window, and it looks great, but once I exit the game and restart it, it loses that setting and looks very blocky and low resolution.  Running it in a window at an odd setting did work, but the game was very clearly stretched in 4:3 modes.

    Another problem I ran into was that the game would crash sometimes (but not all) when changing video modes.  Sometimes it was just resolution, but other times it was between fullscreen and windowed modes, for example.  I really hope they fix these things, as I had no crashing issues whatsoever during my normal playthroughs otherwise.

    A brand new feature for the Steam release, which is not available on other platforms, is online multiplayer, called bro-op.  There is also local multiplayer with the second player using either the keyboard or another Xbox 360 gamepad (highly recommended).  Hot-plugging the controller in during gameplay proved to work perfectly as well.  To it's core, Double Dragon has always been about the bros working together, and this game pulls that off just fine.  The only thing that surprised me a bit is that the second player gets their own save and equipment.  This totally makes sense for online play, but for local, it is very possible for one player to have an end game tape selection, with the other starting off fresh.  This can make the game drastically easier or harder for the other player depending of the level chosen.  The one time I played online it actually went really well, but I have read about people in the forums having a ton of lag problems.  YMMV online, as always.

    Double Dragon Neon is a really fun, 1980's honoring look back at the Double Dragon franchise, with some modern twists thrown in which I really enjoyed.  As a long time fan, I thought that, despite the lack of the iconic hair grab, it really does a very good job bringing back what made Double Dragon fun all those years ago. It's too bad that they had to bring back (in modern high resolution) some of the artistic choices for the women's outfits, but beyond that, it is an enjoyable romp that I would recommend to any fans of the genre.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Dragon Ball Xenoverse
    Developed by: Dimps
    Published by: Bandai Namco Games
    Release date: February 24, 2015
    Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
    Genre: Fighting
    Number of Players: Single-Player, local and online multiplayer, up to six players
    ESRB Rating: Teen for violence, language and suggestive themes
    Price: $47.50 on LeapTrade

    Thank you Bandai Namco Games for sending us this game to review!

    Dragon Ball has been around since 1984 and has had several iterations since then.  While having a separate story line, Xenoverse uses the characters from Dragon Ball Z.  The Dragon Ball series is far from dead as Dragon Ball Super has recently been announced and will be released in Japan this July.  Dragon Ball Xenoverse takes place in a new city called Toki-Toki and offers players a unique story for their custom created character.  The universal time stream has been altered and Trunks has summoned a mighty warrior from Shenron the dragon.  You're the chosen one, now help Trunks save the world!

    There are lots of options available when it comes to creating your character.  The available races include Majin which offers high defense, but slow stamina recovery.  Saiyan warriors are known for their strength, especially when their health gets low.  Earthlings are a well balanced race that has their Ki refill automatically.  Namekians start off with a lot of health that regenerates along with their stamina, but their attacks are weak.  The Frieza race is fast, but has a weakened attack.  They also have the ability to paralyze with their Ki blasts.

    Once your race is set you can customize their color, height, and voice.  Different outfits are available for purchase to make characters even more unique.  By having the day one edition of the game, I had a nice set of golden armor from the get go.  Besides accessory shops, you can buy and create your own items.

    Before you can play online matches and ranked battles, you have to learn the ropes in the single player story, parallel (side) quests, and offline battles.   As you encounter prestigious characters in the story mode,  they will show up in Toki-Toki and offer to train you if you can prove yourself to be a worthy apprentice (AKA defeat them in battle).  You can only train under one mentor at a time. By having a mentor you can learn new skills.  Alternatively, you can buy skills in town if you have money to spare.

    Dragon Ball Xenoverse
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Active online community; great visuals  
    Weak Points: Repetitive fighting sequences; may show some spoilers if you haven't seen the whole series yet
    Moral Warnings: Violence is a given; there is no blood but appendages do get severed off; language including d*mn and b*stard; revealing outfits

    You earn money and experience by completing side quests.  As your character levels up you can adjust your stats including health, stamina, Ki, and your attacks.  For the side quests you can experiment and fight with preset characters of different races.  Maybe next time I'll go with a Saiyan instead of a Namekian fighter.

    The quests are ranked by stars and the lower the number of stars the easier it should be.  I don't agree with their rating system since I have had my butt handed to me a number of times on Raditz's side quest while I was able to complete all other one star quests no problem.  

    Some battles you fight alone and others let you team up with one or two more players or AI fighters.  The AI is pretty challenging and finding a human online to humiliate me didn't take very long.  There are so many online players that it's hard to get into a match before it fills up.  

    I didn't want to get too far into the story mode quests for fear of spoiling the series for myself.  I've watched enough Dragon Ball Z Kai to see Goku transform into a Super Saiyan.  Even with limiting my story mode options, I had plenty to do with the parallel quests, online, and local battles.  

    Sadly, the story and parallel battles are rather repetitive.  You basically go in to fight one or a few enemies, more show up, and you have to chase them to other maps and defeat them there.  Even more will appear and after they are defeated, the level is then completed.  The only thing that changes is the difficulty.

    Dragon Ball Xenoverse
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 72%
    Violence - 4.5/10
    Language - 6.5/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Fans of Dragon Ball and fighting games will still enjoy this game though.  Even with the customization options, the controls take some getting used to. The powerful moves use a trigger and arrow/button presses.  If you have time to search around with your scouter (tracking device), you'll often find handy materials hidden in the levels. Be sure to take yourself out of scouting mode when you're getting attacked as you won't be able to fight back at all.

    The powerful attacks look amazing as does the rest of the game visually.  The maps are accurately recreated from the show and are incredibly detailed.  The characters are all cel-shaded and look amazing as well.  Some of the cut-scenes are 3D rendered while others are animated.  If you like recording yourself play, you cannot record during cut-scenes.  

    The voice acting is true to the series as much of the voice acting (if not all) is the same.  I'm not well versed enough in the series to comment on the background music.  While it is a bit repetitive, it is very fitting.

    Even though Dragon Ball Xenoverse looks like a cartoon, this game should not be played around young children.  Fighting is a given and while there is no blood, there are times when you'll have to chop limbs off your enemies.  There is some language including d*mn and b*stard. Last but not least, some of the female characters wear tight and revealing outfits.

    Appropriateness wise Dragon Ball Xenoverse is no worse than the animated series.  If you're a fan of the show and fighting games, Dragon Ball Xenoverse has much to offer.  If you're like me and don't play fighting games very often, prepare to get humiliated.  A LOT.  

     

  •  

     

     

    Wow. Is there any other introductory word I could possibly use for a game like this? DBZ: BT3 for the Wii is not an utterly new or fresh game, but it is solid to the core.

    The fighting system (usually the most important thing in a fighting game) is by no means deep like Virtua Fighter or Street Fighter, but its subtle nuances give you reason to do more than mash the A and B buttons. The fighting is very fast paced, and problems I had with the over-simplistic, and IR dependent, Wiimote/Nunchuck controls from BT2 are no longer present. Flight is more easily controlled, combos are much more diverse, and special attacks rely solely on motion sensing. There are a ton of characters (I think somewhere close to 200 when including all of the variations; a variation being the difference between Gohan, Super Saiyan Gohan, Super Saiyan Gohan 2, and so forth). There is also a simple, but functional, customization system. This gives players room to turn characters into hand-to-hand specialists, defensive specialists, or energy blast specialists.

    Graphics


    The graphics have not improved significantly since BT2, but they look more polished. Special attacks are devastatingly brutal in presentation. Character models look very much like their anime counterparts, and are animated likewise. On the whole, the graphics are very pleasant. Very little graphical slowdown takes place during offline gameplay in spite of how intense the gameplay is. For those of us with high definition displays, 16:9 widescreen is still not present, but 480p progressive scan is. With the majority of Wii games supporting widescreen gameplay, this is a disappointment, but progressive scan is an appreciated improvement over last year\'s game.

    Sound 

    The audio is good. There is a ton of voiceover work, particularly in the more cinematic (though reduced) story mode of the game. The music is... well... it\'s Dragon Ball Z. I can\'t say that I would listen to the music outside of the game, but it fits the game well.

    Multiplayer 

    In short, the game is a great deal of fun. It\'s addicting and entertaining in spite of its deceptively shallow exterior. What\'s more? There\'s online play in the Wii version of the game. The online play is laggy to the point of being nearly unplayable at the time of writing, but there is a chance that Atari will improve this. For the latest information, visit: http://fixbudokai.blogspot.com

    For the record, I wasn\'t a fan of DBZ prior to playing BT2. Even then I hadn\'t become a fan of the series, but I am finding myself watching it now. This is meant to be a testament to the game\'s appeal beyond its established fanbase. Of course, there is something to be said for "throwing a kamehameha" (energy beam attack, literally "turtle blast wave") with the Wiimote and Numchuck (I think I\'ll have to get a wireless Numchuck because of this game). The special move actions have been refined and improved. Even for this 21 year old college student, though I feel like an idiot when playing this game as such (you can\'t help but stand up and reenact the special attacks), it\'s thoroughly enjoyable.

    Appropriateness 

    The moral content is this game is fairly straightforward. The violence is very much over the top, but it\'s rare for death to occur (more of a knock-out). However, some deaths occur in the story line, along with revivals. These things are handled in a very fairy-tale like fashion, however, and shouldn\'t be a point of concern for most individuals. Beyond that, the supernatural is limited to an ambiguous energy used for special attacks and a character resembling a stereotypical devil. Othan than some skimpy outfits , there is nothing to speak of in regards to sexual content. On the positive side of things, family is important to many of the characters and determined self-sacrifice is very central to character actions.

    Final Thoughts 

    I highly recommend this game to anyone who might find appeal in it. Don\'t worry about knowing (or caring about) the license because the game is too fun to restrict to being a license cash-in. It\'s definitely worth a rental, but with the cost of rentals these days (and the amount of things to unlock and enjoy), your money would probably be better spent on buying the game outright. If online play is fixed, this game will be an amazing way to bide your time until Smash Brothers, and will be a great compliment to Brawl when it comes out.

    Final Ratings

    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 2/5 (Online is broken, but offline is perfectly stable, with a patch, this would be a 5/5)
    Controls/Interface - 5/5

    Violence - 6/10
    People killing people in self-defense (Ex. Medal of Honor) (-4 pts)

    Language - 10/10

    Sexual Content - 6.5/10

    Characters wear very revealing clothing such as bikinis or lingerie (-3.5 pts)

    Occult/Supernatural - 5.5


    Game takes place in an environment with minor occult references. (-3 pts)
    Fairy tale type magic is used in game by player. (-1.5 pts)

    Cultural/Ethical - 10/10

    Bonus
    This game promotes the importance of family values. (+3 pts)

     

    Final Score 81%

     

    {pgomakase}

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden
    Developed by: Arc System Works
    Published by: Bandai Namco Games
    Release Date: October 20, 2015
    Available on: 3DS
    Genre: Fighting
    Number of players: 1-2 (Local multiplayer only; each player requires the game)
    ESRB Rating: Teen for cartoon violence
    Price: $29.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Bandai Namco Games for sending us this game to review!

    It always amazes me how long Dragon Ball Z has endured.  The quest of Goku and friends who save the world over and over, while training to become more and more powerful, is a story that never seems to get old.  Or at least the enthusiasm hasn't died out, even after all these years.  To put things in perspective, the first Butoden game, Dragon Ball Z: Super Butoden, was released for Super Famicom (the SNES in Japan) in 1993.  The last episode to air on TV was in 1996.  (Movies have been released since.)

    Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is a 2D fighting game where a party of up to three playable characters (or multiple assists in their place) does one on one battle against their opponents, while punching, kicking, or ki blasting them to their defeat.  If this sounds similar to other popular fighting games like Street Fighter, that's because it is.  However, as expected, there is plenty of the flair and whimsy that often accompanies Dragon Ball.

    Each fight lasts only one round, and is typically fairly short.  There are only three attack buttons, a dash/dodge button, and two triggers, which are for special attacks and charging (think Kaio-ken).  Most basic attacks aren't too different between the characters, but speed, special attacks, and combo results are often different (though many button combo presses themselves are similar).  The ultimate combo for each character uses similar button presses, though the timing and results are different.  Despite this, fights are entertaining, even if they get a bit repetitive after a while.

    Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Lots of characters to choose from; writing is fun; fighting is fun
    Weak Points: Fighting can get a bit repetitive; currently no online mode
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence, in the form of beating up your opponents; word 'hell' used; 'ki' used to perform energy attacks; 'God' is used as a power level (and refers to other deities)

    The real bulk of the game is the various story modes.  There is the Z Story mode, which follows Goku through the main points of the Dragon Ball Z plot, as well as some 'what if' stories which unlock later.  Most of the game time is actually in the Adventure mode.  This is an alternative future where all of the Z team's enemies return, and you have to deal with them all again, as well as other threats. Each level also has an optional goal to achieve.  If you earn enough points in the fight and complete the objective, you can unlock lots of new assist characters, as well as earn money that you can spend in the shop.  These both can help you be a bit stronger in battle.  Assist characters can perform a strong attack when summoned via touchscreen in battle or otherwise help you out when activated.

    Between levels in Z Story, and upon selecting a mission in Adventure mode, there are story sequences where you get to see banter between various characters from the Dragon Ball Z universe.  Some of it is quite entertaining.  Of course Goku's wife never does appreciate him, despite saving the universe so many times, since he's really bad at getting and keeping a job.  And Goku keeps getting more and more powerful, because that's what Saiyans do.

    Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 84%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The core game isn't particularly long, as you can easily beat everything in under ten hours.  The length comes in for completionists who wish to unlock all of the assists, character bios, and more.  There is also a local two player battle mode, though currently no online mode.  Bandai Namco announced online DLC for Japan; let's hope it comes here, as every player requires their own cartridge to play against each other.  Suffice it to say I have not tested multiplayer.

    For a fighting game, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is fairly family friendly. Obviously there is cartoon violence, though no gore.  Language is relatively mild, as I only noted 'hell' being used.  'Ki' is present as an energy form, and 'God' is a power level (and can also refer to deities).  Goku can gain the 'Super Saiyan God' power level, and one enemy is the 'God of destruction'.  Despite this, I believe the ESRB rating of Teen is appropriate.

    Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is a simple and fun time waster that can easily be played in very short spurts.  For hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans, there is a lot to like, and a new story written by the series creator.  There are also lots of opportunities to collect assist characters, if you so desire.  The music is enjoyable, with lots of hair-band style hard rock to listen to.  The game is somewhat simple, but fun.  If you are a hardcore Dragon Ball Z fan, and really enjoy fighting games, this is a very good choice.  For just fighting game fans, it's a bit harder to recommend, though still solid.  If you don't like fighting games, I doubt this game will make you enjoy them.  It is safe for most audiences, as long as the existence of other human-like gods is not offensive to you.

     

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Gang Beasts
    Developed By: Boneloaf
    Published By: Double Fine Productions
    Released: December 12, 2017
    Available On: PS4, Oculus Rift, Windows, Linux, and macOS
    Genre: Beat 'Em Up, Party
    ESRB: E10+ for Cartoon Violence
    Number of players: 1-8 offline, 2-8 online
    Price: $19.99

    A big thanks to Boneloaf for the review copy of this game and another thanks for the laughs.

    The stage is set: the incinerator. The characters? A chicken, a dinosaur, and a guy with a hamburger hat. Everyone mashes buttons, hoping to land a few good hits. Threats of extra crispy chicken nuggets are thrown while the dinosaur drags the unconscious chicken towards the fire. Too slow. The chicken regains control and an audible thump is heard as he reverses the situation with a solid punch. Looks like the mighty dinosaur goes extinct once again.

    Despite the dark name, Gang Beasts is a silly free-for-all brawl where the last player still in the arena wins. Each map has a different lose condition. Falling off the roof causes you to lose for the rooftop map, while drowning makes you lose on the Ferris wheel map. The characters wobble and flop as they walk, fight, and jump across the map, which is sure to cause a few laughs. If there is one thing this game is good for, it's laughs.

    Gang Beasts
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Laugh out loud funny
    Weak Points: Lack of single-player content
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence

    It's hard to take battles too seriously due to sometimes glitchy physics and loose controls. In addition, the game is almost unplayable alone. The only mode you can play solo is waves, which is a human team versus waves of AI controlled characters. The numbers on the keyboard summon different objects into the game, which can be fun or annoying depending on who has access to the keyboard. Spawning too many objects can create horrible lag, forcing everyone to quit the game and rejoin.

    Most pieces of the map can be moved or broken, which can produce interesting results. Traffic cones and boxes can be grabbed and tossed. Dumpsters can be rolled around and opened. Trains can be derailed. Elevator cables can be snapped, dropping your foes to their doom. If you can think of it, it can probably be done.

    There are a lot of unique characters to choose from, in addition to a character creation menu. All characters have the same controls, but the character's features mean different places you can grab and punch. Some actions require short button presses, while others require holding that same button. The length of time you hold can be the difference between punching or grabbing, jumping or sprinting, kicking or leaning backwards, and headbutting or leaning forwards. Left and right arms work independent of each other; this means you can grab a player with one hand and punch with the other.

    Gang Beasts
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 5/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 93%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    Sounds in the game are limited to the song at Gang Beast's intro and some basic events, such as winning or knocking an opponent unconscious. Graphics and level design are simple, bland, and grey in some areas, while other parts have good coloring and interesting designs. Fire in the incinerator looks amazing, the beef vending machine and traffic cones look nice, while entire buildings can be basic in appearance. All of the levels offer something interesting, but once you understand the tricks, the winning strategy can be something simple like holding onto the blimp and ignoring everyone else.

    The game revolves around violence, but no blood or gore is involved. The characters are able to bend, stretch, and squish under large amounts of force, but they return back to their usual shape later. There is a poop head character and others characters designed to look like Rick and Morty. During Halloween, there was a character with the head separated from its body. Jokes are made about beef and there is a billboard that says "Drink Beef".

    Gang Beasts can be an enjoyable and funny experience, but it does have downsides. Slow control response, buggy physics, and simple levels plague this game. The worst part is the lack of content for single-player. While I love this game, I wouldn't recommend it unless you have some close friends or family you want to enjoy a few laughs with. I also recommend not playing this while people are trying to sleep.

    -Sorrel

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Hero Boy
    Developed By: Crowned Daemon Studios
    Published By: Crowned Daemon Studios
    Released: October 31, 2016
    Available On: Linux, MacOS, Windows
    Genre: 2D beat ‘em up
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Number of Players: 1
    Price: $4.99

    Thanks to Crowned Daemon Studios for the review key!

    Every horror story, it seems, needs its child character. For the most part, you get your Clementines or your Ellies: children mature beyond their years and with a strength of body and mind that borders on abnormal. What about the more normal children, the introverted kids who struggle with bullies? If Hero Boy is any indication, they can certainly carry a story as well.

    Hero Boy tells the story of Max, an eight year old with a penchant for drawing and daydreaming. He lives a rather normal eight-year-old life – getting mugged by bullies and scolded by teachers included – until the zombies stagger into town. His mother takes him on the road, where he balances a reality of horrors and danger with an imagination full of whimsy and heroism – and, as it turns out, horrors of its own.

    The obvious standout, and the game’s greatest strength, is in its art style: the game is presented as a story written and illustrated by Max, and his crayon drawings comprise the majority of the graphics. Each stage, be it a beach, a forest, or a circus tent, is comprised of colorful scribbles that are both charming and easily identifiable, usually on a background of lined paper. It also lends some great dissonance when Max’s nightmares start – like the tried and true “little girl creepily singing a nursery rhyme” trope, childish creativity and unknown horrors blend together to create an eerie, disturbing atmosphere.

    Hero Boy
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Inventive art style that adds to the game’s atmosphere; consistent game mechanics
    Weak Points: Low variety in enemy attacks; repetitive stages; technical issues, some game-breaking
    Moral Warnings: Blood; undead enemies; disturbing imagery; “hell” crops up a few times

    The gameplay within the world, however, is somewhat middling. To its credit, Hero Boy adds to the basic beat ‘em up genre by giving Max light, medium, and heavy attacks, each with a two- or three-hit combo with varying levels of damage, hitstun, and knockback. He also has a shoulder charge that sends enemies flying, and can throw rocks from afar for weak damage. As the game progresses, he gains a total of five special weapons, their usage dictated by an energy bar that fills by either defeating enemies or collecting cans of pop. While the heavy combo’s high damage, range, and knockback will be your go-to attack for the majority of the game, the others do have their uses. The same can’t be said of the special moves, as the drill – which lasts a while, lets you move around, and renders Max invincible – and the magic mace – which does low damage but refills Max’s health – are vastly superior to the exploding punch, mermaid cannon, and laser staff, which leave Max stationary and vulnerable.

    Despite the relative wealth of attacking options, the soul of most beat ‘em ups lies in enemy and location variety, which Hero Boy lacks. While there are plenty of enemy variations – pirates, zombies, goblins, robots, and so on – most of the attacks are simply a melee swing or a telegraphed ranged shot. They’re dressed up nicely – for instance, the ranged robots hover, and their melee attack consists of balancing on one hand to shoot fire from its propulsion – but there are rarely any differences beyond that. The levels themselves are entirely squares and rectangles of varying size, with no obstacles beyond some crates that drop health and energy when destroyed. There’s some mismatch between the story and in-game objectives as well: a cutscene will often end with Max’s mother telling him to run away, only for you to have to defeat all enemies to move on. There are a handful of boss battles with their own mechanics involved, which is a breath of fresh air when they appear, though none are particularly difficult.

    This lack of features wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the game didn’t fall into a rut of repeating itself. As written earlier, the art style and enemy variation make up for its rather shallow gameplay mechanics, but you’ll spend the vast majority of the game fighting gas-masked humans that become enraged and don’t flinch after one or two hits. They’re slow, rush at you in a straight line, and have a crowbar swing that is easily dodged by moving up or down slightly. Max has very few movement options other than a short dash that’s slower than just walking away, and his ranged option deals very little damage and keeps him firmly in place, so battles consist of baiting and punishing their one attack. With more than one on-screen, you’ll have to get them stuck on boxes or each other to have any chance at all. You’ll get real skilled at fighting them by the end of the game, at which point it becomes a chore more than anything.

    The technical issues don’t help – though the most common of them help entirely too much for the most part. The aforementioned gas-masked bandits tend to just wander off for no reason and stand around doing nothing, which is baffling but appreciated when there are six of them bearing down on you. Many of the maps have a spot, usually on the sides or the far bottom, which enemies are unable to enter, letting Max safely pelt them with rocks and completely remove any challenge. This even appears in every single survival mode stage, which completely defeats the purpose of the mode to begin with – though the “forest” survival stage is unplayable anyway due to one enemy always spawning above the map where Max can’t reach, and there aren’t enough enemies around to fill his special meter. Additionally, Steam achievements exist, but don't unlock.

    The most egregious problem lies in an endgame enemy that periodically transforms into any other monster in the game. If you defeat it as it’s transforming, it bugs out and remains on the map in an invisible, invincible state, and your only option is to purposefully die or, if all other enemies are gone, quit the level. Considering the game’s wonky, unreliable checkpoint system, prepare to trek through the previous gas-mask gauntlet stage two or three times for another shot at progression. Add these to a somewhat laggy and unresponsive menu – especially on a controller – and the fact that your mouse cursor remains on-screen in-game, it gives the impression that the game wasn’t too thoroughly bug-tested. To its credit, however, the actual gameplay runs very smoothly and without issue, holding its framerate even with a few dozen zombies shambling around.

    Hero Boy
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 71%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4.5/5

    Morality Score - 87%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Hero Boy’s music is rather solid throughout – nothing that stands out, but it all fits the mood and tone of the levels and story points. The exception is, unfortunately, the song you’ll hear the most, as it plays during the gas-mask bandit encounters: a droning, repetitive track that consists mostly of the same note repeating over and over. The sound effects are generally stock and fit well enough, though they stack on top of each other and get rather loud if they play simultaneously. The buggy transforming enemies do have a death wail that contains crackly audio feedback at the end of it, however. The whole game is voice-acted, mostly by Max’s mother narrating the story, and it meshes well with the atmosphere and is of rather high quality throughout.

    Hero Boy does make an attempt to have some longevity, mainly through the survival mode, but you’ll have to train yourself to avoid the safe spot to make it worthwhile. There are three difficulty options, though they don’t appear to do anything – enemies seem to take and receive the same amount of damage on easy as they do on hard. After beating the story, extra options pop up to make the game easier (defeating enemies heals Max, increased knockback) or harder (less effective or removed items, increased enemy damage). There’s also a new game plus mode that gives you all special moves from the start, though the drill tends to get Max stuck in levels before it’s formally introduced. Finally, there’s a strange “welge mode” that makes all enemies whisper “I will kill you” when defeated and gets old very quickly, and a “pandering mode” that turns the zombies into references of various real and fictional people, including BroTeamPill and Vivian James.

    As a game set in a zombie apocalypse, the standard zombie-type moral issues apply, though drawn in crayon. Undead enemies are a given, with skeletons and ghouls also appearing, though these are purely in Max’s imagination. Defeated enemies in-game fly away or simply vanish, but in certain parts of the story, dead bodies with blood under and on them show up. Some of the scenes contain disturbing imagery, most notably the transforming ghouls and the bipedal elephant boss in the circus level that loses its trunk midway through the fight. Finally, though the language is mostly clear (save for the spelling; Max’s English skills are poor even for an eight-year-old), though the word “hell” does pop up in the background of the nightmare levels every so often.

    Overall, Hero Boy is a charming but flawed game. The presentation is great and the gameplay is smooth, but both game design and technical issues keep it from more lofty heights. If you’re interested in the art style and the horror aspect, it’s worth a look come sale time, but if the crayon drawings don’t do it for you, you’ll find better options elsewhere.

    -Cadogan

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Injustice: Gods Among Us
    Developer: NetherRealm Studios
    Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
    Released: April 16th, 2013 (PS3/Xbox 360/Wii U); October 7th, 2013 (Ultimate Edition PS3/PS4/PS Vita/Xbox 360/PC)
    Available On: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
    Number of Players: Up to 2 
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence)
    Price: $18.80
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Warning: Minor spoilers.

    In Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman was terrified by the idea that Superman could turn against humanity. The realization of Superman’s humanity, specifically that the two had mothers who shared the same name, shook Batman to his core. This is not the first story to tackle the threat of a rogue Superman. The Tower of Babel story arc in the Justice League comics also addressed Batman’s fears of superheroes going rogue. In it, Batman’s contingency plans are stolen and used against his fellow Justice League members. In Injustice: Gods Among Us, however, the Justice League does go rogue and there is little Batman or anyone can do to stop them. An interesting idea, but is the story worth experiencing? Is there a solid game underneath this clash of comic book titans?

    Injustice: Gods Among Us was developed by NetherRealm Studios, the team behind the Mortal Kombat franchise. Despite this pedigree, the game doesn’t have gruesome Fatalities or provocative attire. There are however, a number of similarities between Injustice and NetherRealm Studios’ previous game. Like Mortal Kombat, Injustice has a strong single player component due to the game’s focus on story. Regardless of whether or not the story (written in part by actual comic book writers) impresses players, DC Comics went the extra mile by publishing a short series of comics leading up to the events  portrayed in the game. The additional material helps draw in comic book readers, as well as better explain how the Justice League went from superheroes to villains. From a marketing standpoint, the use of a different medium is a stroke of genius, helping to broaden the game’s target audience beyond just fighting game fans.

    The events of Injustice are set in an alternate universe which differs somewhat from the mainstream DC comic universe. For example, in this alternate universe, Lex Luthor and Superman have never been adversaries. The setting helps provide justification for the game’s events. Under the control of Joker, Superman not only wipes out most of Metropolis, but he also kills Lois Lane and their unborn child. This moment of powerlessness becomes the basis for the reign of tyranny which follows. Superman brutally kills Joker, then, with the assistance of most of the Justice League, installs a world government, ruling through force. Batman’s resistance has been nearly defeated and he’s running out of options. In a desperate attempt to turn the tide, Batman pulls the Justice League from the mainstream DC comic universe over to this alternate universe to fight by his side. Alternate universes have been a DC comic book staple for decades. One of the most notable examples is ‘Crisis on Earth-Three’, in which the Justice League faces off against the Crime Syndicate, a group of evil superpowered doppelgangers. The plot is surprisingly good for a video game, providing players with a better understanding of the comic book characters. For example, when Superman from the mainstream universe argues with the High Councillor Superman over the ruthless actions he has taken since Lois’ death; it provides a unique look at the character and the struggles he faces as a result of his incredible power. Comic book fans that are looking for a good story will not be disappointed.

    Injustice: Gods Among Us
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: A solid fighting game with a large roster of DC superheroes and villains, with a good story written by professional comic writers.
    Weak Points: Though a step above Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, the rigid fighting system feels a bit dated compared to other two-dimensional fighters. Online play has improved since Mortal Kombat, but it is still far inferior to other fighting games.
    Moral Warnings: Strong language; sexually suggestive dialogue; and brutal violence.

    Graphics are solid on all platforms, even on the Playstation Vita. Characters and backgrounds are well-rendered and true to the source material, however, character costumes have been given an added flair by NetherRealm Studios. Having spent considerable time with both the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 versions, I see little difference between the two. There are, however, bizarre slowdowns during cinematic sequences on the Playstation 4 version. NetherRealm Studios could have done a better job optimizing these sequences when porting the game over from the last generation consoles. In terms of audio, the background music is up to par and the voice acting exceeds expectations. NetherRealm Studios brought in a number of celebrities to voice Injustice’s cast, including Troy Baker, Adam Baldwin, Kevin Conroy, George Newbern and Tara Strong, who have voiced these characters previously. This extra effort will be appreciated by fans of the DC animated television shows and recent video games like the Arkham series.

    Gameplay in Injustice is a step above NetherRealm Studios’ previous game, Mortal Kombat, but still feels somewhat dated. Though an improvement over Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe's dated combat system, but falls short in comparison to other two-dimensional fighter games like Ultra Street Fighter IV and King of Fighters XIII. Each character has a handful of set combo strings made up of light, medium and hard attacks, along with special moves. Players also have a super gauge which can be used to enhance special moves, disrupt an opponent’s attack, or execute a super move. This system will be familiar to anyone who has played a modern two-dimensional fighting game. The difference is that it is much harder to end combo strings with a special or super move in this game than it is in others. Recovery time on certain normal attacks cannot be cancelled, and that extra second delay means Batman won’t throw his Batarang. Because of this rigidity with the combo system, players will need to spend more time practising to figure out which attacks allow for a super or special follow up. Injustice also adds character traits, abilities unique to a specific character like a special attack or buff, as well as the ability to wager their stored super energy for a chance at additional health while on their second life bar. While character traits are a nice addition to a familiar system, the wager ability is more of a gimmick. Losing players who aren’t certain to win a wager won’t activate the attack, and players with the advantage would rather use their gauge more effectively. I doubt we will see the wager system in Injustice 2. Aside from an array of attacks and abilities, stages are interactive, giving calculating players an edge in combat. Though not game changing, this interactivity is a welcome addition.

    Injustice: Gods Among Us
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 78%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 7.5/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    As stated previously, like Mortal Kombat, Injustice has a strong single player component due to its story focus. This is where the game really shines. The Story mode is broken up into several chapters, each focusing on one particular character during the story's events. Completing Story mode will take players roughly six hours to finish, maybe longer depending on their skill at fighting games. Battle mode is the game’s arcade mode, allowing players to take a character of their choosing and play through one of many different arcade ladders. Completion of a ladder unlocks a character specific ending which can be viewed again at any time in the game’s Archive. There is also the S.T.A.R. Labs mode which is much like Mortal Kombat’s Challenge Tower, filled with character specific challenges which vary from fun to frustrating. There are additional characters available as downloadable content (included in the Ultimate Edition), along with corresponding S.T.A.R. Labs missions. There is more than enough single player content to make it worth the purchase, despite the poor quality of the game’s multiplayer. Couch multiplayer is solid, but online play is, to be blunt, weak. NetherRealm Studios’ netcode appears to have been improved since Mortal Kombat, but online play is inferior to other fighting games. Mortal Kombat X, NetherRealm Studios’ latest game, fares no better, despite promises to improve online play. Matches are hampered by lag, even when both players are in the same geographical region and have strong connections. If you really want to play a fighting game online, Ultra Street Fighter IV and Dead or Alive 5: Last Round are much better. One can only hope NetherRealm Studios figure out how to improve their online play by the time Injustice 2 is released.

    Considering that neither Zauriel nor Blue Devil is part of Injustice’s cast, there is no mention of Christ or Christianity. This should not come as a surprise as comics tend to be geared towards secular audiences. Though religion doesn’t play a part in Injustice, there are mentions of Greek Mythology (Wonder Woman and Ares), as well as magic (Shazam and Zatanna), and alternate dimension demons (Raven’s father Trigon, as well as guest character Scorpion from Mortal Kombat). Magic and superpowers are staples of DC comics, so parents shouldn’t expect that to change in Injustice. What is troubling, however, is how shockingly violent the game is, even for a fighting game. For example, High Councilor Superman’s tyrannical reign begins with the brutal murder of the Joker, and by the end of the game, he kills two more characters before being stopped by Superman, who is recruited by alternate universe Batman. There is also a few moments of sexual innuendo and minor swearing. Injustice is a far cry from its gore-filled cousin, Mortal Kombat, but parents should be aware that this isn’t a family fun game with the Super Friends.

    As a long-time fan of DC comics and fighting games, I thoroughly enjoyed Injustice: Gods Among Us. There is a reason why it received “Best Fighting Game” awards from IGN, GameTrailers, Game Informer and the VGX in 2013. Injustice offers more mature gamers a solid fighting game, despite its rigid combo system, with a great story written by professional comic writers. It’s a shame that all of this is hampered by poor online multiplayer. Parents concerned about the dark nature of the game’s story, as well as the graphic displays of violence, may want to do a bit of research before deciding whether to pick up or pass on this game. Injustice is nowhere near as violent as Mortal Kombat, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it for younger gamers.

    -Christopher Lancop

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    King of Fighters XIV
    Developer: SNK
    Publisher: Atlus 
    Released: August 23rd, 2016
    Available On: Playstation 4
    Number of Players: Up to 2 offline, Up to 12 online (Free Match lobby)
    Genre: Fighting
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence)
    Price: $59.99 
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Before beginning this review, I would like to thank Atlus for giving Christ Centered Gamer a review code. Their generosity made this game review possible.

    King of Fighters XIV is the latest game is a long running franchise which began as a SNK showcase, bringing in characters from the company’s other games like Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting, as well as adding new ones. The series has grown to become SNK’s flagship game, spawning thirteen sequels and numerous spin-offs. After a five year absence, King of Fighters has returned on the Playstation 4. Did SNK deliver a champion fighting game or does it get knocked out by the competition?

    King of Fighters XIV’s story is standard fair for the series; skilled fighters are sent an invitation to the ‘King of Fighters Tournament’. This year’s host is a mysterious billionaire named Antonov, who not only purchased the rights to the ‘King of Fighters’ tournament, but proclaims himself to be the “first champion.” Despite his frightening appearance, Antonov is not a bad guy, an interesting change considering that previous tournament hosts included villains like Geese Howard and Rugal Bernstein. Each character has their reasons for entering the tournament, ranging from testing their might against other skilled fighters to carry out personal vendettas. Much of this background is revealed in pre-match banter between characters who know each other and each team’s story ending. Following the match with Antonov, the tournament is interrupted by a being called Verse, who serves as the game’s final boss. Very little is revealed about Verse, except that he harbours the souls of fighters lost in previous tournaments. He is more of a plot device than an actual character, acting as a way for SNK to potentially bring back fighters from previous games. For example, Orochi, the final boss in King of Fighters ‘97, makes a cameo appearance in one of the team’s endings. What role Verse will play in future games is uncertain, but I’m interested to see where this newest King of Fighters storyline goes.

    Graphically, King of Fighters XIV isn’t impressive. Character models and backgrounds are more than adequate, but lack the detail found in other fighter games like Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat X. To be blunt, the game looks like it could have been released for the Playstation 3. That isn’t to say KoF is visually unattractive. The character models give the game an anime-like feel. This is not just a happy accident, but a decision made by SNK after the negative reaction to the first teaser trailer.  Although character animations are fluid, and visual effects and impressive, they don’t compare to other games on the Playstation 4. Despite this, KoF's audio is solid. There is a variety of different stage music ranging from Chinese-styled electronic to country rock, each designed for specific locations. There is also special rivals music, which are remixed versions of memorable tunes from previous games that play when certain characters fight each other. Players can listen to their favourite music, as well as the audio for the game’s characters, in Gallery mode. The only fault I can find here is that, with the exception of the announcers, all the game’s audio is done in Japanese. Considering how poor the English audio was in the King of Fighters: Maximum Impact games, this isn’t a major misstep, however, it would have been nice to have the option to choose between the two languages like players are able to do in Street Fighter V.

    King of Fighters XIV
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: A solid fighting game with a large roster of characters and a deep combat system.
    Weak Points: Character models look dated and there are some issues with online multiplayer.
    Moral Warnings: There are minor swears; some female characters have revealing attire and there is breast jiggle.

     In terms of gameplay, King of Fighters XIV offers a surprisingly deep experience. Though individual characters lack the depth of those found in games like Street Fighter V, the roster size makes up for it. There are sixteen unique pre-set teams, and players have the ability to make their own teams out of the fifty characters available (forty-eight unlocked from the start plus two boss characters who are playable after finishing Story mode). Each character has a handful of normal and special attacks, two super moves, and one CLIMAX super move. Though not much different than other two-dimensional fighters, the game’s combat system is a step above its competition. KoF offers an incredible amount of freedom when performing combo attacks, allowing players to combo normal attacks into special, then into supers and even a CLIMAX super. Activating MAX mode (which consumes one super gauge bar) allows for even more combo opportunities. With practice, players will be able to pull off combos that do over sixty percent damage to their opponent. Since the game’s combat system doesn’t lock players into specific combo strings, it encourages experimentation, which in turn increases the game’s replayability. There is a great fun in discovering a combo that other players have missed and using it against them.

    Unlike Street Fighter V, King of Fighters XIV doesn’t lack single player content. Story mode is the core of the single player experience, allowing players to choose from either a pre-set team or create one of their own and play through the game’s story. Mission mode offers the players additional challenges like Trial, Time Attack, and Survival. Though not groundbreaking, Mission mode does add a much needed change of pace after completing Story mode with every pre-set team. Versus mode, though traditionally a two-player mode, allows for single matches against a computer controlled opponent.  Tutorial mode teaches players about KoF’s combat system, starting off with basic movements and attacks and working up to more advanced techniques like the CLIMAX cancel. There is also a Practice mode where players can practice what they learned in Tutorial, as well as learning each character’s moves. Again, considering how deep KoF’s combat system is, much of the player’s time will be spent in Practice mode perfecting combos.

    Online multiplayer is at this point in an odd state. Some matches are perfect, while others have a noticeable input lag, bizarre slowdowns or a weird glitch that turns combat into a slow motion brawl. SNK has promised to address these stability issues, so hopefully fans of online fighting games won’t have to wait too long before its running perfectly. Aside from the play itself, the Online mode is filled with a variety of activities for players. There’s Ranked Match, Free Match, and even Online Training for players who want to practice combos with their online friends. Aside from this, players can check their online stats and even watch streamed matches. Considering the amount of online content available, it is important that SNK address the stability issues quickly. Finally, no matter what mode players choose to play, they will unlock Gallery content. This includes movies, music, and character artwork from previous games. This added incentive will keep completionists glued to King of Fighters XIV for hours.

    King of Fighters XIV
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 77%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 7.5/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    King of Fighters XIV has a Saturday morning cartoon feel to it due to the lighthearted nature of the story. There are, however, a few things some people might take issue with. The background story for the title characters of the franchise borrows heavily from Japanese mythology. The main characters, Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami, are the heirs of two rival clans who have mastered pyrokinesis (the ability to create and control fire) to combat the demonic Yamata no Orochi. The Yagami clan made a pack with the demon for power, turning their fire purple and cursing their members with a short lifespan. Iori’s teammates, Vice and Mature, were former members of the Hakkesshu, a cult dedicated to the Orochi, and have demonic powers themselves. The background story sounds darker than it actually is, but it may concern some parents and players. There are, however, more to be concerned about than just character background stories.

    Not only do a few female characters have revealing attire, but there is a fair bit of breast jiggle during combat. For example, Mai Shiranui of the Women Fighters Team has long been considered SNK’s sex symbol and is the most prevalent example of both. Other female characters like Angel from Mexico Team are overly flirtatious. There is also alcohol consumed in team ending sequences, as well as in battle by background characters and one fighter, Chin Gentsai, a member of Psycho Soldiers Team and a master of Drunken Fist. Aside from this, the tournament organiser Antonov is fond of cigars. There are also minor swears, but they are too few and far between to be of any worry.  In all my hours with the game, I only encountered a handful of minors swears. In one instance, during an ending sequence, one character calls another a “dick.” As stated previously, most of the game’s dialogue is done in Japanese with a handful of characters speaking in broken English.

    Despite its faults, King of Fighters XIV is a solid two-dimensional fighting game. For those disappointed with Street Fighter V’s lack of content or repulsed by Mortal Kombat X’s gore, this is game that should be considered. While not the most visually attractive fighting game available, the game’s large roster of characters and surprisingly deep combat system more than make up for its graphical shortcomings. While there are stability issues with online multiplayer, SNK is promising to fix it. Even with the online multiplayer short comings, there is more than enough content here for fighting game fans. SNK have given players one of the best fighting games I myself have played since King of Fighters ’99 Dream Match for the Sega Dreamcast. This is one that I believe that is worth the full purchase price.

    -Christopher Lancop

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Koihime Enbu
    Developed By: UNKNOWN GAMES, M2 Co., LTD
    Published By: Degica
    Release Date: May 19, 2016
    Available On: PC, PS3, PS4
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Genre: 2D Fighting
    Mode: 1 – 2 Players, local or online
    MSRP: $39.99

    Thank you Degica for sending us this game to review!

    Koihime Enbu appears to be just a generic anime fighter.  And in some ways, it is – its source material is a rather obscure set of visual novels, Koihime Musou, and the whole roster of characters is girls.  Who hasn't heard of an all girl anime fighting game cast?  These days, it seems more rare to find a guy in games like this.  Despite that, under the hood there seems to be a pretty solid fighting experience.

    Like many 2D fighting games, this seems to take a fair amount of inspiration from Street Fighter, with many of the moves taking the form of the common quarter circle forward (QCF) or forward down forward (FDF) movesets.  Most of the girls also carry a weapon, and much of the caution and timing that I found useful in Samurai Shodown applies here as well.  Most of the attacks can either be chained into a combo, or counters can be executed, providing openings for more attacks or counters.  Honestly, the actual mechanics of fighting are pretty good, and can keep your interest for a while.

    There are thirteen different playable characters, as well as seven assist characters.  Each one plays quite differently, with different rhythms, speeds, attacks, and ranges.  In arcade mode, each fighter can choose one of two assist characters.  They affect what the 'assist' attack does.  Sometimes it directly damages an opponent, while others immobilize them in some way.  It can really come in handy!

    Koihime Enbu
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Nice looking anime and hand drawn art; solid fighting game mechanics
    Weak Points: Dialog localization is not the best
    Moral Warnings: Fighting game violence, including punches, kicks, and weapon attacks; blood splatters with some attacks; plenty of cleavage, midriffs, and visible panties; some girls flirt, joke with, or put themselves in provocative situations with other girls

    There is a 'tactics' meter, which is similar to Street Fighter's Super Gauge.  It has four levels, with various moves, like the ex and assist moves, using one meter, and super and ultimate moves using three or four.  These can really change the momentum in battle, as once you start attacking, a skilled player can combo those together to drop some serious health.

    There is the aforementioned arcade mode, which is likely very similar to the physical arcade machines from Japan that this game is based on.  There is also a story mode, which adds a bit more conversation in between fights than the arcade mode.  There is an excellent training mode, with challenges, which are a welcome addition.  Lastly, there is online and vs. modes.  The one time I tried to play online (and of course lost miserably) I was able to find someone to play against, but the community is likely small.  I did try a few local bouts and everything worked as expected.

    The pixel graphics, effects, and backgrounds really look great.  I've always appreciated pixel art where it is appropriate, and it looks really nice here.  The characters themselves seem a bit lower resolution than some of the portraits and other things, but it's not too distracting.  Animations also look great.  The scenes between battles are serviceable but nothing special.

    The music is pretty good, and the sound effects of each attack and impact hit with an appropriate amount of oomph.  The sound track is also available for a very reasonable $4.99, and includes FLAC and MP3.  It's always great when FLACs are included, as that is uncompressed CD (or better) quality.

    Koihime Enbu
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 79%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 8.5/10
    Sexual Content - 5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Appropriateness wise, Koihime Enbu is a mixed bag.  Violence is as expected, with punches, kicks, and various weapon attacks that hit your opponent.  Some attacks cause red blood splatters, though most do not.  I did not notice any curse words, though since I am not skilled enough to beat the game on scenario mode, it is possible that there may be some I have not seen.  There were some odd scenes with phrases like 'I've trained my buttocks for occasions like this.'  The majority of moral warnings that I would point out are related to sexual content.

    Several of the girls are large breasted, and many of them show some form of cleavage.  Some top view, some bottom view, some side view.  Almost all wear form fitting clothes, even if they don't show any skin in that area.  Some midriffs are also shown.  Several characters also have visible panties, sometimes in their normal stances, or occasionally while fighting.

    A few of the girls seem to have homosexual attraction towards other girls.  One in particular seems to have lines like 'Would you like to have another bout in my bedroom?' and a few of the endings involve some compromising situations with her.  There are a few other scenes with girls at a hot spring or wearing bikinis at a beach.

    Koihime Enbu is a fairly solid fighting game with good mechanics and nice production values.  The content is a bit sparse for anyone who is not a hardcore fighting game fan.  None of the stories I played seemed to have any significance to the overall story of the characters, but were mostly silly banter.  If it wasn't for the questionable content in places, it would be easy to recommend for its competent fighting game system, especially during the inevitable sale.  As it is, I expect this game to gather a small but dedicated community, like many other less popular fighting games.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Lethal League
    Developed By: Team Reptile
    Released: August 27, 2014
    Available On: PC, Mac OSX, SteamOS
    Genre: Fighting
    ESRB Rating: NR
    Number of Players: 4 offline, 4 online
    Price: $13.99 (Steam)

    A lot of indie developers like to make crazy game concoctions. Games like Divinity Dragon Commander, Rocket League, and Shovel Knight amongst others like to mix various game styles into one big game and Lethal League is no exception. From the creators of Megabyte Punch, Lethal League is a mixture of Pong and Super Smash Brothers with the style and music similar to that of Jet Set Radio thrown in. It's crazy cast of characters, awesome music, and easy to learn/hard to master gameplay will entertain even the pickiest of fighting game fans. 

    When you start up the game you're asked if you want to learn how to play the game. Should you select yes you'll be able to select a character from the roster to help you learn the ropes. The characters are:

    •Raptor: A 15 year old rookie in the Lethal League scene, hailing from the south. Though young, he’s very determined and fiercely competitive. His weapon of choice is a metal baseball bat and his special ability allows him to twist around and quickly hit the ball two times in a row.

    •Switch: A 5 year old skateboarding ex-working class robot. He uses his skateboard and skateboard tricks to hit the ball. He sports cargo pants to stop filth getting into his leg joints when speeding across the city. Very unlike his old robot peers, he’s carefree, a daredevil, and he likes a challenge.

    •Candyman: A 28 year old tap-dancing mutated human with a big yellow head. He hits the ball with his cane and he has a special ability to change the chemical composition of certain objects to give them strange and odd properties due to his mutation. He’s jazzy, expressive and crazy.

    •Sonata: A 23 year old human. Sonata is all about pushing her body to its physical limits in the name of showmanship and impressing her audience. She joins the game to boost her recognition and fame. She wields a giant boombox hammer effortlessly, owing to her diligent training.

    •Latch: A 20 year old crocodile outfitted with a mechanical tail. Enhancements to his spine and brain allow him to function in human society. He is in possession of tremendous physical as well as mental strength. His personality is calculated, his movement is raw.

    •Dice: A 19 year old human. He eschews the typical weapons of choice for a ping pong paddle that he wields with uncanny force. He appears distant at times, but can be intensely concentrated whenever he feels the need. As a Buddhist, Dice is known for his mental discipline and diligent physical training.

    Lethal League
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Stylish design; amazing music; easy controls
    Weak Points: Too chaotic. Sometimes you don't know what's happening on screen.
    Moral Warnings: Swearing amongst one of the characters

    As you play the tutorial you learn about how you move around the battlefield as well as how you control the ball. You have a dedicated jump button, a hit button, a bunt button, and a taunt or “expression” button. The hit button does exactly what it’s supposed to do, though you can hold it down to increase the speed of the ball when you hit it and you can also control the direction of the ball with the left analog stick. The bunt button slows down the ball on impact just a bit for you or someone else to follow up for a hit. The expression button allows your character to perform his or her specific taunt, though pressing the button along with the left analog stick in a certain direction will have the character say phrases like “Wow, Oops, OMG”, etc. 

    After a while in tutorial you’ll then learn about some of the deeper mechanics of the game, like how every character has a special move. After your character has hit the ball 4 times you can trigger your character’s special move to occur by pressing the hit button again after you hit the ball. This will use your entire special meter and will change the behavior of the ball. For example Candyman’s special allows him to turn the ball into a replica of his head that allows it to go through the walls of the stage hitting whoever might be on the other side. Latch’s special lets him eat the ball and spit it out at the player’s discretion. The special moves in the game are different for every character and each of them do something different to the direction or the speed of the ball. There are other mechanics in the game like each character having the ability to wall jump a la Megaman X, or how some characters interact with stages differently such as Latch being able to wall cling and Switch being able to ride the walls and ceiling of every stage. There's also parrying where, at the cost of your super meter. while you’re hitting the ball pressthe bunt button you can prevent your opponents from trying to hit the ball and instead opening them up for the ball to hit them out.  These mechanics add a lot of depth to a game that has a very simple control scheme.

    Lethal League
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 94%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 90%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    After you’re finished with the tutorial you’ll be able to select from either go online or play some local versus multiplayer. Both of them have their own modes similar to that of Super Smash Brothers where you can play either Free for All or Team Battle. There’s also a mode called Strikers where it’s two teams of two and the objective is to have the ball hit the goal on the opposing side a la Hockey or Soccer. There’s also an Extras section where you can go into Training mode to practice your skills and reaction time, and to Challenge mode where you fight a gauntlet of opponents until you reach the final boss The Doombox. Looking at the list of modes at first glance may not seem like much, but there’s definitely plenty to do in this game.

    As far as the online component of the game is concerned, the online is great! The netcode is run by GGPO (Good Game Peace Out) which is considered to be the gold standard in fighting game netcodes.  In the character select screen during online play you’ll be able to gauge how laggy your match will be via a bar that appears next to your opponent’s character. This is good information to let you know how long to delay your timings, especially when it comes to a game like this. 

    On the morality front there’s the violent act of hitting a ball toward your opponent’s face as well as some cursing with Candyman. Thankfully you can turn character voices off in the options menu if they get on your nerves.

    Lethal League is an indie game that’s described by the fighting game community as “Pong but insane” and rightfully so. The mechanics, the characters, as well as the visual effects that play on screen when the ball gets over a certain mile per hour really make this game worth playing when you have friends over, though I’d wait for a price drop on Steam.

    -Miguel Ortiz

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Mortal Kombat X
    Developer: NetherRealm Studios
    Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
    Released: April 7, 2015
    Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
    Number of Players: Up to 2
    ESRB Rating: M for Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language)
    Price: $29.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Be warned, this is not a spoiler-free review. I will discuss key plot points from both Mortal Kombat (2011) and Mortal Kombat X.

    It has been more than a year since Mortal Kombat X has been released. Since then, it has received a handful of updates, as well as a fair bit of additional content, all of which is available in the Mortal Kombat XL edition. As a long time fan of the Mortal Kombat series, however, I have mixed feelings about this game. Do the hits outweigh the misses or is it destined to rot in the Pit?

    Mortal Kombat X’s story takes place shortly after the events of the previous title. The defeat of Shao Khan in Mortal Kombat came at a heavy price, with Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade as the only surviving members of Raiden’s team of warriors. To make matters worse, Shinnok, a fallen Elder God has begun to attack Earthrealm with resurrected fallen warriors to fight by his side. The fighting is intense and all seems lost until Johnny discovers he possesses a hidden power which miraculously he is able to activate, allowing him to save Sonya’s life and defeat Shinnok. Twenty years later, Johnny Cage, now Raiden’s chosen hero, has assembled a team of young warriors, which includes his daughter Cassie, to deal with the new threats in Outworld. The central focus of the story is on the return of Shinnok, which although predictable, is familiar to fans of the series and rather enjoyable. The turmoil within the Cage family is also believable and well-done. We see Johnny and Sonya fall in love and their relationship fall apart as the latter is too focused on protecting Earthrealm to be a wife and mother. The problem, however, is with the rest of the story.

    Like Injustice: Gods Among Us, Mortal Kombat X’s marketing includes a series of comics meant to fill in the twenty year gap from Johnny Cage’s defeat of Shinnok to the present day events of the story. While enjoyable at first, the comics’ story quickly becomes a convenient excuse to kill off characters not used in the game. The Outworld civil war, a major subplot in Mortal Kombat X, is touched on early in the game but later ignored altogether for a different plotline which leads to the deaths of many notable characters. Though character death is not uncommon in this series, there is an unsettling finality in both the Mortal Kombat X comics and the game itself. While some characters deaths can be undone, notably Mileena’s (she’s a clone and her Klassic tower ending reveals that there are hundreds of Mileena clones hidden away across Outworld), others cannot. Considering the body count at the end of the game’s story, fans are left wondering how the series progresses beyond this point. Will Shang Tsung return and possess the ability to resurrect fallen warriors or will there be a new plot device that will allow them to return from the dead? It’s difficult to see how writers can undo the loss of characters in a way that’s convincing to series fans. As they did with Mortal Kombat: Armageddon previously, it appears that NetherRealm Studios may have written themselves into a corner.

    Aside from these story shortcomings, there is also the issue of the game’s roster of characters, which are a collection of hits and misses. Both Cassie and Jacqui Briggs are welcome additions to the series. Cassie has her father’s wit, along with a handful of his moves. Though I doubt NetherRealm Studios would not include Johnny Cage in the next game, if they did decide not to, Cassie can more or less fill her father’s place in the roster. Jacqui, on the other hand, is very different from her father in terms of personality and fighting style. Between her and Cassie, it’s hard to pick a favourite. It’s a shame, however, that the other new additions are so lackluster. Though he is a futuristic ninja with psychic powers, Takeda is rather bland. Kotal Kahn, the new ruler of Outworld, is revealed in the game’s story to be more of a coward than a conqueror. He is a poor replacement for ruthless Shao Khan. The other characters are either bizarre or just boring. Despite having a roster at release of twenty-five characters, including Goro, I really only wanted to play with half of them. The additional downloadable characters didn’t do much to address this problem, and instead created a new one.

    Mortal Kombat X
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: A great fighting game with superb graphics and solid gameplay.
    Weak Points: One of the franchise’s weakest stories. Questionable story and character design choices, along with the inclusion of microtransactions suggest interference in the game’s development. Mortal Kombat X’s online multiplayer is inconsistent.
    Moral Warnings: The most graphic game in the series. Fatalities and Brutalities are extremely gruesome. There is also a fair bit of swearing in the Story mode dialogue. Finally, Mortal Kombat X introduces the Kung Jin, the series' first openly gay character.

    With the release of Kombat Pack 2, Mortal Kombat X has four guest characters from horror movies. The inclusion of Leatherface in particular upset some fans who were hoping to see more returning characters, including those which appear in the game’s story. The idea that characters featured in story mode weren’t prioritized for development and added as playable characters, let alone excluded from the game’s original roster, is surprising to say the least. Player frustration that they could play against fan favourite characters in the story, but not play as them is understandable. This frustration later turned to anger when rumors spread suggesting that Leatherface’s inclusion in Mortal Kombat X was part of a marketing strategy for an upcoming Leatherface movie. Whether these rumours are true or not, the appearance of corporate interference has the effect of tarnishing Mortal Kombat X.

    Despite all the blood and guts, Mortal Kombat X is a visually attractive game. Character models are almost lifelike. Unlike previous Mortal Kombat games, female attire is far less revealing. For example, Mileena, who wore the most revealing costumes in the previous game, is now wearing noticeably more clothing. Some players might appreciate the new modest female wardrobe which represents a significant change from what fans have come to expect from the Mortal Kombat series. Aside from realistic character models, the stages give players the feeling that they are lived in. The most impressive of these is the Outworld Marketplace which gives players a glimpse at life in this hostile realm. Like Injustice, stages are also interactable. This means that the beautifully rendered weapons lying around can actually be picked up and used in combat. In fact, it is actually amazing how well the interactable elements blend in with the rest of the stage. Like NetherRealm Studio’s previous game, though background music and sounds are par for the course, voice acting for Mortal Kombat X is stellar. Top talent like Troy Baker, Johnny Yong Bosch and Kelly Hu were brought in to voice the game’s characters. Considering how much spoken dialogue there is in this game, it was important that it was delivered professionally.

    Gameplay is where Mortal Kombat X really shines. It builds upon the previous Mortal Kombat game with a more flexible combo system, along with the return of running. As with the previous game, each character has a handful of combo strings made up of normal attacks, as well as special movies and an X-Ray attack (Mortal Kombat’s equivalent to a super move). Button inputs feel more precise and, as a result, combos are easier to perform. Players can also adjust controller options if they’re having trouble executing special moves by turning on Input Shortcuts and Release Check. Such options make playing Mortal Kombat X easier for newer players, but can disadvantage more skilled players (I have them turned off). Because of the general ease in executing attacks, combos are easier to execute than most other two-dimensional fighting games. The addition of running also aids in building combos, not just for the position of a character while juggling an opponent, but to extend combos through run cancelling. As stated previously, stages are interactable. This addition isn’t game changing, but will give more calculating players an advantage, especially since players can combo stage-based attacks. The introduction of character variations also adds more depth to the game. After choosing their character, players can choose from one of three different character variations. These variations range from different special moves for characters to drastically different play styles. The problem, however, is that only one or two of the variations are worth playing with. NetherRealm Studios should have spent more time developing these character variations since experimenting with them to find ones that fit a gamers’ play style adds depth to the game.

    The only real issue I have with Mortal Kombat’s gameplay is the inclusion of Easy Fatalities, which allow players to perform Fatalities by using tokens that are purchased with real money. The inclusion of microtransactions in games has been a source of frustration for gamers, especially since they are becoming more common. Not only are Fatalities optional, but are already easy to execute. Given that I spent seventy dollars to buy the game, I find it more than a little insulting that NetherRealm Studios would include this feature in the hope that I would spend even more money on an unnecessary feature. Its inclusion suggests that there was corporate interference in the game’s development. Although there is no need to use Easy Fatalities, the token counter is ever present. It’s a black eye on what is otherwise a solid combat system.

    Mortal Kombat X
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 57%
    Violence - 0/10
    Language - 3.5/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    As with the previous game in the series, Mortal Kombat X offers players a lot of single player content. Upon first loading up the game, players are taken through a short gameplay tutorial and a video explaining the new Faction system. Regardless of what mode players choose to spend their time playing, they will earn points towards their desired faction. Though little more than a gimmick, it makes players feel that they are part of a larger community. The Story mode, like Injustice and the previous Mortal Kombat game, is divided into several chapters each of which focuses on a specific character. Playing through Story mode will take players roughly five hours to complete depending on their skill with fighting games. After finishing the game, players can play the Klassic tower (MKX’s arcade ladder), found among the Traditional Towers, to unlock character specific endings. There are also the Test Your Might, Test Your Luck, Survival and Endless towers for players looking for additional challenges. The Living Towers provide players with Hourly, Daily and Premier challenge towers which are time sensitive. Aside from the towers, players can also play a Single Match against a computer controlled opponent.

    Mortal Kombat X’s online multiplayer, despite numerous patches released by NetherRealm Studios to fix it, is inconsistent. While some players have not reported issues, others have had serious difficulty. My time online was marred by bizarre slowdowns and constant lag. When the game was released, the online servers were regularly being shut down for maintenance. Even connecting to the WBPlay, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment service is inconsistent. Far too often I found myself unable to connect to the service, even after numerous login attempts. Despite the online problems with Injustice and their promises to address them in MKX, NetherRealm Studios still haven’t figured out how to provide players with a solid online experience.

    The Krypt returns in Mortal Kombat X, allowing players the ability to spend their hard earned coins on additional game content, including costumes, Brutality and Fatalities. What is unique about this Krypt compared to ones in previous games is that it is more interactive.  Players don’t simply move around a graveyard and open coffins, but they need to solve puzzles to open up new areas which lead to more chests. While wandering around the Krypt, players will be attacked by wolves, large spiders and zombies. Each attack triggers a quick time event, which can earn players coins if they succeed or it can cost them if they fail. Though a novelty at first, the constant jump scares can make going to the Krypt a frustrating ordeal. Aside from this, I have a more serious issue with the Krypt. As with the Easy Fatality microtransactions, players can spend real money to unlock all its contents. Considering how long it takes to open all the chests, and the fact that players cannot turn off the random encounter jump scares, one has to wonder whether this was done by design, to frustrate gamers into spending more money on this game. Again, this inclusion suggests corporate interference in the game’s development.

    Morally, there is little that can be said in the game’s defense. The Mortal Kombat mythology rejects the existence of a Christian God and in fact replaced Him with a group of Elder Gods, along with minor gods like Raiden who protect Earthrealm. Also, due to its graphic nature, this is not a game that should be played by or around children. Story mode begins with gruesome imagery and doesn’t let up with the blood and guts. Players can also brutally execute defeated opponents by using Fatalities and Brutalities. This isn’t surprising for players who have played previous Mortal Kombat games, but Mortal Kombat X takes the gore to a new and very unsettling level. The language is just as bad with major swear words being used throughout the game’s story. Also, it would be hard to discuss morality in Mortal Kombat X without also discussing Kung Jin, the series’ first openly gay character. His existence is more about checking off a box than political advocacy. Aside from one line about sexual preference, there is no discussion about homosexuality. Players are instead left with a character with a unique move set, but little else. Truthfully, Kung Jin is worse than a boring character, he’s unlikeable. He’s an arrogant know-it-all who picks fights with everyone, including his teammates. I cannot imagine homosexuals would be happy with the way this character is portrayed as he is the only gay character in the game.

    When looking at the game as a whole, it is hard not to notice that Mortal Kombat X is very different from previous Mortal Kombat games, and not in a good way. It leaves the clear impression that there was a lot of corporate interference in the game’s development, mainly as a result of the chilling effect of political correctness that has gripped the video game industry of late. To start with, the story’s main heroes are diverse to a fault. It is hard to ignore that the team sent to save Earthrealm was practically ripped from an after school special. It’s almost as if NetherRealm Studios forgot about how diverse their cast of characters already was and made the extra effort to ensure they couldn’t be criticized for a lack of diversity. Also, as stated previously, the revealing costumes of previous games have been replaced by concealing costumes which desexualizes female characters. Aside from Mileena’s more modest wardrobe, Sonya Blade no longer looks like the sex symbol she was previously. Instead of a tank top and skin tight pants, she is now wearing a full body costume. Other Christians will appreciate the more modest attire, but as a longtime fan of the series, I can't help but be upset by this change. The most bizarre thing about this is that while new characters and changes in attire appear to have been made to appeal to critics, the higher levels of gore in Mortal Kombat X alienates the very same people the other changes were trying to placate. Despite having over a year to correct the mistakes in the original release, NetherRealm Studios failed to do so. By adding additional costumes more in line with attire found in previous games or characters fans begged to be added as downloadable content, they could have addressed the most common complaints of their audience. The developer should have directed its efforts to please those who would buy their game, not those who wouldn’t.

    As a long time fan of Mortal Kombat, I have a hard time recommending Mortal Kombat X, especially for those new to series. In terms of graphics, gameplay, and single player content, it is solid. Short comings in the story and character design, along with poor online multiplayer, as well as the inclusion of microtransactions, however, detract from what is otherwise a solid fighting game. In comparison to the previous entry which hit all the right notes, Mortal Kombat X is lacking. It is almost as if Shang Tsung sucked the soul out of the game replacing it with more gore and a failed attempt at political correctness. What players are left with is a game that checks off the right boxes, but does little else. Players who are new to the series should first pick up the Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PSVita or Steam. Though lacking Mortal Kombat X’s graphics and gameplay, it is more in line with the series than this game in terms of character design and gore.

     

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Penny-Punching Princess
    Developed By: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
    Published By: NIS America, Inc.
    Release Date: April 3, 2018
    Available On: Switch, PS Vita
    Genre: Beat ‘em Up
    Number of Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: Teen for Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language
    MSRP: $29.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you NIS America for sending us this game to review!

    Penny-Punching Princess starts off with the tragic tale of the Princess’ father having died a tragic death after losing everything - his kingdom, money, and eventually his life - due to a poor set of investment decisions that ended up with him losing it all. The Princess is incredibly angry about this - and she wants revenge. She wants to take back her kingdom the old-fashioned way - with a punch to the face, along with money - since money is what really rules the world. She does this with a gift that Zenigami, the god of money, gave her: a magical calculator that she can use to automatically find anyone’s price - and bribe them to serve her, instead of their current masters.

    The action takes place in a 3/4 top-down view, with everything being 2D art. The backgrounds are gorgeous pixel art, and the characters are lower resolution sprites, but still look pretty good. It’s a unique art style that works.

    The Princess can do quick combo attacks, strong attacks, and push attacks that cost health. There are also a limited number of skills she can use as well. Most of the game becomes about juggling and stunning your opponents to keep them from wiping you out, as well as bribing enemies or relics to either keep them out of your way, attack your enemies, or both.

    It must be said that this game is basically all but impossible without lots and lots of bribing. (And even with bribing, it is no cakewalk.) It’s incredibly challenging, as more and more powerful enemies come your way, and your innate power does go up, but not nearly enough to compensate for what starts to come at you. To make up for this, you need to become incredibly skilled, and persistent - and know who and what to bribe. Sometimes it may be more beneficial to bribe an enemy outright and take it off the field, while at other times it makes sense to bribe the relics, which are environmental items, which then can attack whatever enemies get in its way – and can be really powerful.

    Penny-Punching Princess
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun beat ‘em up action; unique premise and mechanics; very nice art and music
    Weak Points: Incredibly challenging to the point of frustration; difficulty spikes can be outrageous; sound crackles on occasion
    Moral Warnings: Animated violence, as you punch everything in sight; money can solve all problems, though is played somewhat tongue-in-cheek in the story; enemies include skeletons and other undead, demons, dragons, and various other fantasy creatures; multiple gods, including Zenigami, the god of money; minor curse words like ‘h*ll’, ‘sh*t’, and ‘p*ss’ used; ESRB notes drug references

    In each level, you can find Zenigami statues. In order to become more powerful, you need to gather these and spend them on various attribute bonuses as well as more skills. It can take a while sometimes, but it can really help to double your hit points, for example.

    Another important way to improve your power requires two things: collected kingdom members, which are grown through bribing in a level, and having lots of money. By putting these two together, you can buy better armor that can have skills, offense, and defense built in to make you both do more damage, and be more resiliant to impact. It makes a big difference, especially since you pretty much always need all of the help you can get, especially with some of those nasty difficulty spikes.

    The actual gameplay of Penny-Punching Princess is a lot of fun; it is polished, has a lot of character, and some of the dialogue is quite funny. But man is it difficult. Maybe I’m getting old, but if I hadn’t long worked out throwing my controllers through a strong desire to preserve my personal property, I have no doubt that I would need a new Pro controller by now.

    Grinding is often required to get the best equipment, because you require a set number of certain citizens in order to buy each type of armor. As you gather more and complete more levels, more powerful types of armor become available. I have found I needed to grind quite a few times to keep up with what has become available. And that isn’t always enough.

    I found that with some of the difficulty spikes, equipment only goes so far. At the end of the day, you may just have to practice over and over again until you get it just right, even if you’ve done everything else you can. When you die, you have to play the whole section you are on over. Some levels have multiple sections, so you don’t have to redo everything – but someone better not quit that game until you have completed the level and saved, because sleep mode may be all the break you can get until you get back to the overworld map.

    Penny-Punching Princess
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 78%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

    Thankfully, the art is great, and the music is also fantastic. I found myself really liking some of the music, even if it loops a bit sooner than I would like. The only thing that had me scratching my head is that sometimes I would hear a glitch during a song; I’m not sure what that’s all about. Otherwise, it sounds great.

    Morally, there is the obvious, if not tongue-in-cheek overruling power of money. Many times over, including by the money god himself, there is a reinforcement of this concept. Despite the colorful cartoon-y art style, I would probably not have younger (but reading) players play this, as they might not get the intentional irony in all the money talk. It’s probably too difficult for them, anyway.

    Of course there is lots of fantasy violence, as pretty much everything gets punched to death. There is no blood, as enemies drop coins when they die. There is a small amount of magic, mostly in the form of enemies throwing fireballs and such, but I don’t perceive it as occultic at all. As already mentioned, there are references to various gods. Some enemies (and party members) are undead, and includes skeletons, zombies, and other creatures like imps, dragons, and other common dark fantasy fare.

    The ESRB noted some drug references that I did not catch. They included mushrooms saying they were high, and bees talking about taking a hit. There is a lot of dialogue that happens while fighting, and it's easy to not notice what they are saying; I am guessing these were that case.

    Penny-Punching Princess is a cute, fun beat ‘em up with some RPG and town building elements. It’s very enjoyable, but incredibly challenging, with some steep spikes in difficulty. If you are looking for a well polished and difficult beat ‘em up, then Penny-Punching Princess may be right up your alley. It’s also filled with great writing and humor to round out the package.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
    Developed By: nWay Inc
    Published By: nWay Inc
    Released: March 27th, 2019
    Available On: Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
    Genre: Fighting game, Action
    ESRB Rating: Teen for fantasy violence
    Number of Players: Up to 2 players
    Price: $19.99

    First of all, thanks to nWay Inc. for the review code for this game!

    The Power Rangers is a classic. Developed initially in 1994, the tv show has delighted fans ever since. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is an updated take on the classic TV show, giving the player an interesting storyline that involves training of the rangers, 1 on 1 battles, and is described as 'easy to learn, but hard to master.'

    There are several methods of play to choose, which does add variety. The four settings are story, arcade, versus, and training. Story is the mode I found myself playing as it tells a story that goes along with various fights. In arcade mode, you first select a ranger to play as. You can then customize by choosing weapons and armor and even color. In versus you pick one character for a showdown with another character of your choice. In training, you pick 3 teams to go against each other. You also get a choice of backgrounds. It's not that different from arcade mode. As of July 10th, 2019, Crossplay now allows Switch and Console Players to battle each other. It has also introduced several new characters, among them Trey of Triforia and Jen Scotts. Lord Zedd will appear in a future update.

    Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun fighting game; easy to follow; local multiplayer
    Weak Points: Cutscenes are more intriguing than the gameplay; gameplay is boring and tedious after awhile
    Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence

    The mode I found the most interesting was story mode. In Story Mode, gameplay involves first watching a short storyline. I found the storyline a lot more intriguing than the actual game, if one is perfectly honest. Gameplay is basically just fighting, and is very similar to Street Fighter. You have one player vs. an opponent and your goal is to deplete the opponent's lifebar before yours is depleted. Various special moves are unlocked and can sometimes be used in various points during the game. The same fighting and game play, a la Street Fighter is used in all 4 modes of the game.

    If you like fighting games, this is fine, but I felt let down by the uninteresting gameplay after the intriguing cutscenes. The fights are the same thing, one after another, just done with different characters. I found myself getting bored after about 10 minutes of play. You are allowed to play as each ranger and that seems fun at first, but gets old very quickly. The part that had me throw down the game in frustration was Tommy's death. This was frustrating as it was delivered in a sucker punch way and Tommy has always been my favorite ranger .

    There are some redeeming factors to Battle for the Grid. The graphics are welldone. The cutscenes are done in comic book format, and they are true to the series and TV shows. The controls, though, can be a bit confusing as you sometimes cannot tell who is the player and who is the opponent as the screen switches up. There are some special moves and weapons that are unlocked as the gameplay progresses along.

    Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 55%
    Gameplay - 5/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 3.5/5

    Morality Score - 82%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 7.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There is some voice acting done in the game, and it is actually one of the strong points. The actors in this game do lend their voices, and the characters are believable and all sound unique. Various sounds are made, such as grunting and realistic sound effects of fighting. The weapons make their own unique sounds too. The soundtrack itself, however, is not memorable.

    I really cannot recommend this game. Storyline is rushed, fights are boring, and many others have expressed similar disappointments with Battle for the Grid. I found it like a rehash of Street Fighter meets Mortal Combat without any of the fun. For a game celebrating the 25th anniversary of an iconic series, I really am disappointed.

    How does Battle for the Grid hold up from a Christian perspective? This is one of the strong points. The Power Rangers universe is present, thus there are no mentions of God or Satan or anything else in the Bible. The Power Rangers do fight for good, so the lines against good and evil are clearly defined, as they were in the TV series. The rating for this game is Teen and that is appropriate. I would not give this to younger children as many of the cutscenes can be quite frightening and disturbing. The fight scenes are fine for older children, and there's not a lot of blood and gore.

    All in all, I feel this game was rushed, and other reviewers have felt the same way. It just felt like a quick way to make a buck off nostalgia for fans. Sometimes it's better to wait for a great product than settle for a so-so one. This game could have been much more. A huge disappointment and letdown.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Radical Heroes: Crimson City Crisis
    Developed by: Mad Unicorn
    Published by: Apogee
    Released: October 4, 2016
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Beat em' Up
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated
    Number of players: 1
    Price: $2.99

    Thank You Mad Unicorn for sending us this game!

    Radical Heroes: Crimson City Crisis is a fun Beat em' up that is inspired by 'River City Ransom' from the NES. It feels nice, plays easily, and doesn't take up much space. For its price, it is surprisingly fun and plays well. When I play this game, it runs okay, but it may lag a bit. It has crashed a good amount of times and has a lot of bugs.

    If you fight enemies, you can use abilities that you may have bought to help you. You can fight many different enemies, and save Crimson City from an invasion. There are lots of stores and training places you can go to, and they all are very useful for your character. You can unlock various characters to play as, and they all have their own benefits.

    Radical Heroes: Crimson City Crisis
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun; great music; good pixel art
    Weak Points: No multi-player; tons of bugs
    Moral Warnings: Mild blood

    I think that playing this was not that hard, but it got a little difficult at times (not many). Other than its lack of challenge, it was very fun to play and to just mash buttons on my controller, while beating up enemies at the same time.

    There is a story, but there is not much to it. There was an invasion of some evil force and everyone is counting on you to stop it. This “evil force” consists of gangsters, zombies, ghosts, clowns, ninjas, aliens, robots, and also all of the bosses. Anyways, after the police tells you about the evil force, you go forward and see a floating, holographic man with a mask and cape. He calls to you and tells you to defeat the evil force. But first, he teaches you your first special move: the Leaping Lizard. He tells you that the Leaping Lizard is a powerful uppercut only Heroes know (making you a hero).

    I love this game's music. There are lots of different songs that it plays, and I love them all. They can be pretty catchy, but I actually like it when these songs get stuck in my head because of how good they are. There is only one person who actually has a voice. And that person is the holographic man. And he only shows up once. There is also some commentary heard in the background while you are fighting.

    Radical Heroes: Crimson City Crisis
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 72%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 1/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 85%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 6.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The controls are kind of weird to me, because they aren't my style. But luckily you are allowed to change them. Another thing that bugs me about the controls is that they are meant for playing on the keyboard, so on a text screen when you are talking to a person, it says “Press Space to Continue”. Also, in the menu where you can change the controls, instead of it saying “A button”, “B button”, or anything like that it says “Button 1”, and ”Button 2”, and I think that's pretty annoying.

    There is a lot of cartoon violence because that is pretty much what it's all about. There is not any inappropriate language or any sexual content. Since there are some power moves and aliens and stuff like that, I would say that there is some supernatural stuff in this game. I did not find any cultural, moral, or ethical problems here, either.

    I enjoyed playing this a lot, and I think anyone who likes the side-scrolling Beat em' up action would enjoy playing Radical Heroes: Crimson City Crisis. I don't think that there is much wrong with this title, and I think that it is very fun.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal
    Developed By: Tamsoft
    Published By: XSEED Games/Marvelous USA
    Release Date: January 22, 2019
    Available On: Windows, PS4
    Genre: Action Beat 'em Up
    Number of Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: M for Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
    MSRP: $39.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you XSEED Games for sending us this game to review!

    Games where sexual content is explored in the context of a relationship, or the various forms of relationships, have been exploding onto the gaming scene for the last several years. This is not one of those games. This one is more like 'I have pretty girls that beat stuff up, and their clothes come off in the process'. There is most definitely a solid action game in here, that is inexorably linked to large-breasted women whose clothes come off during battle.

    SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal is the story of high-school students who are secretly shinobi-in-training. There are two rival schools: the Hanzo National Academy, where their best train as good shinobi, or the Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy, where they train as evil shinobi. It seems almost all shinobi are girls, though there are male shinobi mentioned (the Hanzo instructor is one). This is a remake of the original 3DS game, along with extra content. It is made in the style of the latest entries in the series, using fully 3D environments and battles, rather than the 2.5D fights of the original.

    These shinobi-in-training are learning from their masters what it means to be a shinobi, and the risks involved in doing so. In order to use their strongest powers, they need to keep their secret ninja scrolls on their body at all times, which is used to humorous effect, as the girls tell each other (and the player) where they keep theirs. Some in the cleavage, others in the panties... you get the idea. Titillation of this kind, where various aspects of the female form are used as either a joke or by drawing attention to it, is a constant companion in SENRAN KAGURA.

    SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Entertaining beat 'em up; nice music, graphics, and voices; a good amount of levels; serviceable story
    Weak Points: Each level is fairly short, and is somewhat repetitive; narrative sections progress too fast and change the page automatically before you are ready
    Moral Warnings: Animated violence, as you kick, punch, slash, and otherwise attack your opponents to defeat them in battle; most opponents are humans; foul language, including 'b*st*rd', 'b*tch', 'd*mn', 'h*ll', '*ss', 'p*ss*d off', 't*ts', 'sh*t', and 'f*ck'; the difference between good and evil is blurred; a few spirit enemies; sexual themes and nudity galore, with nudity being a clear and intended byproduct of the combat; each girl in the all-female cast is provocatively dressed in some fashion, including extremely large breasts, complete with jiggle physics; during combat, looking up the girl's skirts is easy, and clothes are often shredded and torn off, or optionally, you can just start the battle in a swimsuit/underwear for an offensive boost at the cost of defense; when you perform a Shinobi Transformation, each girl is undressed and redressed in a provocative way right before your eyes, with the camera lingering on the behind and breasts; several girls have at least a voyeuristic attraction to other girls, have conversations stating as much, and in some cases emotional attractions as well; the PC version includes an 'Intimacy Mode' that was censored from the PS4 version last minute, that allows you to push, slap, and rub the girls all over their bodies, and eliciting responses generally asking you to stop (but there is no in-game reason to do so)

    Through a combination of narratives on a backdrop and rendered cutscenes, you learn about the characters and their various struggles. Cutscenes are fully voiced in Japanese, which is nice. The strange thing I found is that while reading the narrative sections, often the text would scroll by quickly, and change the page long before all but the fastest readers could follow along. I had to force myself to read quickly rather than process each word as I normally do in order to have any hope of reading it all. (It's also really hard to take notes in situations like that.)

    The action itself is actually pretty fun, with each character having a weak and strong attack, jump and dash buttons, a guard, and some other actions which makes combat somewhat unique. There is a limit break, which can be used to throw enemies away from you, lock-on functionality, and two things somewhat unique to this game (or series). The first is Burst mode, where you can pummel enemies quickly until a meter runs out (you charge it by attacking enemies). At the end it does a powerful attack, which you can activate early by pressing the button again. The other main special button is the 'Shinobi Transformation' button.

    Shinobi Transformations is one of the headline features of this game series, I suppose. As your character takes damage, you can choose to activate the Shinobi Transformation, which fully restores your health, as well as unlocks some extra powerful attacks. You can't activate it right away, since you need at least a full shinobi meter first, but it doesn't take very long for it to unlock if you need it. Once activated, your character loses all of her clothes, and in a white light, has all new clothes, underwear and up, drawn on her right before your eyes, while making sure to swing the camera up to highlight her legs, bottom, and breasts in perhaps the most alluring way possible without actually showing anything that would exceed the 'M' rating. (There are no nipples, and no crotch shots.) The extra attacks, activated by pressing the Shinobi Transformation button along with the weak or strong attack buttons, are quite handy, though. There is also an optional Frantic mode, where you sacrifice defense for attack, but are wearing underwear the whole level. (This has to be chosen at the beginning of a level.)

    The action itself is very combo-heavy, and in many ways is kind of like a Dynasty Warriors-lite. You are typically surrounded by anywhere from a handful to dozens of enemies at a time, and it's your job to clear them out while taking as little damage as you can. Most levels end with a boss battle, which can actually be pretty challenging. It is here that you really need to learn how to guard/parry, as well as dodge, as some attacks can be quite debilitating. If you get stuck, you can change the difficulty before starting every level, and I found easy to be very simple, as most enemies rarely guarded or counterattacked, while on normal that happens regularly.

    Many levels hide secret scrolls somewhere, usually in breakable boxes. You also earn in-game money for each mission you play, even if you fail. You also gain experience for the character you used, and they do gain levels. It's not well explained what those levels get you, but I would imagine more health and/or damage. You can spend in-game money on accessories (clothing) of various kinds, unlockable artwork (often found via secret scrolls) and other similar things in the shop, accessible between levels. You can also save/load, manage settings, and things like that there. There is also a dressing room.

    The main purpose of the dressing room is presumably to try out the outfits you unlocked. On the PC version, there is also an 'Intimacy Mode', where you can rub your virtual hands on them, slap them, or pull on them in various ways. This includes fully operational breast physics. The girls clearly do not like what you are doing most of the time, but they can't do much other than complain about it. This mode was planned for the PS4 version, but was removed last minute due to a demand from Sony. Apparently previous games had a similar mode, and this was the first time Sony's new censorship policies impacted the series. In my opinion, it's not much of a loss.

    Outside of the obviously sexualized high-school girls, there are plenty of jokes that are sexual in nature as well. At least one girl has a thing for feeling up others, another seems to have feelings for one of the others, and so on. And, of course, every possible shot of a female naked, outside of 'showing it all' is done, including lights where the nipples and crotch would be if you defeat certain enemies. Even regular enemies shed their clothes before they are defeated.

    SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 56%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 0/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

    In other areas, there is animated violence, against mostly human opponents, where you punch, kick, slash, or otherwise attack them until they are defeated. They disappear with a poof. There is significant foul language, including 'b*st*rd', 'b*tch', 'd*mn', 'h*ll', '*ss', 'p*ss*d off', 't*ts', 'sh*t', and 'f*ck'. There is typical martial arts mysticism, as well as spirits, and a few references to oni/demons. The differences between good and evil are a bit blurred as well.

    The PC version runs great, and works on most PCs with a decent graphics card. It does work on my GPD Win 2 at around 20-30 frames per second, what I might consider barely playable. It should work fine on anything more powerful. The sound, music, and voice acting are all well done, and the graphics look nice, though not overly detailed. Certainly good enough.

    SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal is an entertaining beat 'em up that is unfortunately buried in inappropriate sexual exploitation and innuendo that is impossible to avoid. I do enjoy the beat 'em up action, and I'm sure I would enjoy a game that isn't so in-your-face with its fanservice. After all, it does have quite a bit of content, with over eighty levels (even if each one is pretty short) and a storyline and characters that I came to appreciate, and apparently are popular enough to spawn multiple other games, and even an anime series. While I certainly can't deny some positive aspects to this game, I would encourage beat 'em up fans to find other games more appropriate.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    SNAILS
    Developed By: Tadpole Interactive
    Published By: Tadpole Interactive
    Released: Jan 3, 2019
    Available On: itch.io
    Genre: Beat 'Em Up
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Number of Players: 1
    Price: $2.99

    Thanks to Tadpole Interactive for this game to review. I would love to see continued improvement!

    A seven year old girl must fight for her survival against an army of menacing mollusks that have already eaten everyone she knows and loves. Dora Ditze pushes back the snails the only way she knows how: kicking their collective faces.

    SNAILS is a 3D beat 'em up that gets it's inspiration from PS1 games. Unfortunately this game draws it's inspiration from the unpopular parts of PS1 games, too. This includes tank controls, ugly pre-rendered humans, and repetitive gameplay. While short render distance, unfiltered textures, low poly models, and the walls shifting at different camera angles would be acceptable for a PS1 game, this is for PC. In addition, there is no controller support for SNAILS. I wasn't even going to try memorizing all the keyboard controls, so I used Steam Big Picture mode and bound keyboard keys to my controller. SNAILS is no longer for sale on Steam, but is available on itch.io.

    SNAILS
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Mildly interesting boss battle and unique ending
    Weak Points: Annoying gameplay
    Moral Warnings: Violence, Blood

    Each of the first six levels consists of snails scattered throughout the area, some items, and a goal. Combat consists of forward kick, backwards kick, sideways kicks, and dodging. Snails have a lot of health, but fortunately I didn't need to mash the kick buttons to fight. Holding down kick buttons will chain and alternate between the different directions of kicking. While this helps prevent sore fingers, it does hurt the gameplay. Holding two buttons for a minute to fight off two snails isn't my idea of fun.

    There are 3 types of snails to fight: regular, blue, and small. The regular ones slowly crawl towards the player to attack close range, the blue one with the shells spit from afar, and the small snails are a faster moving melee range snail. By the time I reached level 6, I was tired of fighting so many snails. I decided to run past as many as possible, fight the only the ones I must beat in order to escape certain trap areas, and head straight for the goal. Level 7 is the boss battle, which added a nice change of pace with his various attacks.

    After beating the boss, the game shows another pre-rendered scene, wraps up the game, and rolls the credits. While the ending was unique and somewhat interesting, it was far from worth beating the game to watch. The music is decent and fits the game surprisingly well. I would have liked it if the game was controller compatible, or at least set up to work with Steam Big Picture mode's default bindings. Tank controls are a nuisance to the point that I use dodging more often than regular movement.

    SNAILS
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 38%
    Gameplay - 4/20
    Graphics - 2/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 1/5

    Morality Score - 91%
    Violence - 5.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Dodging can be done to the left, right, or backwards, but not forward. Items need to be picked up manually by pressing a button. Scenery is consistent and well done, considering the texture quality. I could easily tell what the level area is and what the next level might be like. Unfortunately, there is no explanation for why the girl took the path she did.

    Violence is throughout the entire game, with Dora fighting against being eaten by snails. Pixelated snail blood is shed when the snails get hit. If the player gets hit, pixelated human blood is shed and the 7 year old girl screams. Her cries are hard to miss and slightly disturbing. The girl's terror is made known throughout the game, especially in the last cutscene. In the end, flying saucers destroy the city she escapes.

    The few hours I played this game just weren't fun for me. Screaming and blood seems a bit overdone. The only reasons I tried getting farther than level 2 was hope that the game might get better and to complete the game before reviewing it. This title is better than shovelware and had a lot of work put into it, but unfortunately is tedious and falls short. More variety, a better control scheme, and fixing how the humans look could make this game a much better PS1 era game.

    -Sorrel

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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